Borough bans sale of kratom to minors

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The borough council has enacted an ordinance banning the sale of the herbal extract kratom to minors under 18 within Point Pleasant Beach.

Kratom is legal under both state and federal law, but has been a controversial substance in the eye of regulators.

The Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA] lists kratom as a drug of concern, which means the organization believes “they pose risks to individuals who abuse them.”

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In the DEA’s 2017 resource guide to Drugs of Abuse, the guide states, “kratom consumption can lead to addiction.”

At low doses, kratom produces stimulant effects with users reporting alertness, physical energy, and talkativeness. At high doses, users experience sedative effects.

Several cases of psychosis resulting from use of kratom have been reported, where individuals addicted to kratom exhibited psychotic symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, and confusion, according to the guide.

This new ordinance follows a long time fight between the borough and advocates of the extract dating back to last year.

Kratom advocates from as far as Florida and Kentucky flew in to try to persuade the council to reconsider banning the sale of the controversial herbal extract when introduced in November of 2019, and instead impose an age restriction on the sale and use of kratom in the borough.

The borough had passed an all-out kratom ban, prohibiting the sale of the extract outright, on Dec. 3, 2019. It was voided by state Superior Court Judge Marlee Lynch Ford after a complaint was filed by Noble’s Smoke Shop.

The complaint, filed on Jan. 17, challenged the validity of the ordinance and stated the ban was beyond the powers of the borough and not a matter local officials could regulate.

The complaint cited N.J.S.A. 40:48-2 saying “a municipality’s authority to regulate ‘for the public good’ is limited to matters of local concern; a municipality has no authority to regulate on matters of wider state concern.”

“The ordinance itself repeatedly acknowledges that regulating Kratom is a matter of state, if not national, concern. This is confirmed by the fact that there is currently pending legislation seeking to regulate Kratom at a state-wide level,” the complaint read.

The borough sought to justify its ban citing an obligation for the protection of persons and property, the preservation of the public health, safety and welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants.

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