New Jersey legislator pushes to outlaw emerging synthetic drug

 The Broward Sheriff's Office in Florida shows confiscated vials of flakka. This emerging drug can alter brain chemistry in such a way that users can't control their thoughts and it can increase adrenalin. (AP file photo)

The Broward Sheriff's Office in Florida shows confiscated vials of flakka. This emerging drug can alter brain chemistry in such a way that users can't control their thoughts and it can increase adrenalin. (AP file photo)

A state lawmaker wants New Jersey to get out in front of a synthetic drug linked to hallucinations and attacks on police across the country.

Assemblyman Tim Eustace said Tuesday he wants to discourage use of the inexpensive synthetic called flakka with tough penalties.

“I would imagine it is being used in this state,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of reports, but it’s spreading across the country. And, since we already have an out of control heroin problem in this state, better to be ahead of it.”

Flakka, which is easy to obtain in bulk from labs in other countries, comes in a crystalline rock form; it can be swallowed, inhaled, snorted, or smoked.

“If you evidently take too much of this, you have a psychotic break,” Eustace said. “I liken it to when people are on the drug ecstasy, they think they’re overheating so they strip their clothes off. It seems that people are stripping their clothes off and doing unusual things, but also they can get violent. That’s the scary part.”

Eustace, D-Bergen, said he’s optimistic the Legislature will pass his bill to make possessing, manufacturing, or selling flakka punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $150,000.

“We did ban bath salts, and this is akin to bath salts. It’s another synthetic drug that people are using for entertainment and just getting in trouble,” he said. “It’s just that this drug — the side effects may be permanent with psychotic breaks. So it’s more important we move as quickly as possible.”

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