‘CJ’s Law,’ Ramirez-sponsored bill to ban kratom, clears N.J. Assembly committee


“CJ’s Law,” a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Jessica Ramirez (D-32) to ban the sale of products containing kratom, cleared the Assembly State and Local Government Committee yesterday.

Assemblywoman Jessica Ramirez (D-32). Facebook photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“This bill is a significant step in joining states throughout America to protect the well-being of our communities,” Ramirez said in a statement.

“We hope this legislation will tackle the serious threat posed by kratom. I am committed to preventing future losses due to the substance and will continue fighting to safeguard New Jersey.”

Also sponsored by Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-30) and Assemblyman Will Sampson (D-31), Bill A-3797 seeks to criminalize the manufacturing, possession and sale of products containing kratom.

Kratom is a botanical substance advertised as an herbal pain supplement, and commonly promoted as a treatment option for people suffering from morphine and heroin addiction.

Despite this, the FDA advises against its utilization, and the opioid-like analgesic is not approved in the United States for medical use.

Consumption of kratom can lead to toxicity in one’s organs, failing respiratory functions, and a myriad of other concerning symptoms such as sleeplessness, delusions, and aggressive withdrawal reactions.

According to federal and New Jersey law, kratom is not illegal and can be purchased for ingestion.

The usage of kratom is already banned in several states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin, as well as in 19 countries. Additionally, more legislation is being passed to prohibit the substance around the globe.

This law hopes to stop the sale of kratom in New Jersey to honor the life of Christopher James ‘CJ’ Holowach, who 33 years old when he lost his life due to his consumption of kratom.

While awaiting arm surgery, Holowach turned to the substance instead of jeopardizing his recovery from an opioid addiction. Without knowing the proper dosage or being made aware by any warning label, he suffered a cardiac arrest.

“The passing of this bill out of committee is an important first step in ensuring that the sale of kratom is prohibited in the state of New Jersey,” added Trish Bossone, CJ’s mother.

“Illegalizing kratom will prevent deaths. It is mislabeled, mis-marketed, and miscommunicated. I am very hopeful that this bill will help prevent one more person from dying because of kratom. I encourage other representatives to support this bill and protect our children and the residents of New Jersey.”

The bill passed out of committee unanimously (7-0).

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  1. My name is Christopher, and I stumbled upon Kratom in 2015. I feel compelled to share some of my journey with you, delving into the challenges I’ve faced and how Kratom has played a pivotal role in my pursuit of a more manageable and less stressful lifestyle.

    From a very young age, life presented me with formidable challenges. At the age of eight, I was struck by a car, setting the stage for a series of health issues that would profoundly affect my life. Between the ages of eight and thirteen, I experienced around forty knee dislocations, leading to my first knee surgery at thirteen and a second one at twenty-two. Living with daily pain is a reality that many can’t fathom. My mornings typically start with the goal of alleviating pain just to go about my day, a struggle I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    Throughout my childhood and into my adulthood, I was prescribed various medications to manage the pain, including Demerol tablets during my teenage years. My tolerance for medications was unusually high from an early age, leading to a regimen of strong pain management throughout my teens and twenties.

    Physical activities were mostly out of reach for me as a child, which meant sitting out during gym classes and missing out on typical childhood play. However, I found solace in learning about nutrition, diet planning, and exercise routines, even if I couldn’t participate in them myself. This led me to become more sedentary, especially between surgeries, resulting in significant weight gain during my early teens.

    By the age of sixteen, after my surgeries had concluded and I had a break before the next one, I took it upon myself to lose weight and strengthen my body using bodyweight exercises. Despite these efforts, managing pain remained a constant battle, one that was often addressed with increasing amounts of prescription medications, as was the norm at the time.

    My health journey took a more alarming turn in 2017 when I was diagnosed with aggressive squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer). During a period marked by a severe cough, I experienced non-traumatic rib fractures from coughing alone, leading to the discovery of five broken ribs. It was only after undergoing surgery for the squamous cell carcinoma that my ribs began to truly heal, highlighting a period of intense pain and confusion regarding my health.

    In 2018, a diagnosis of osteopenia shed light on the likely long-term impact of chronic opioid use for pain management since childhood. This realization marked a turning point in my approach to health and well-being.

    Since then, my life has transformed significantly. I’ve eliminated alcohol and prescription painkillers from my life, finding solace and functionality in natural remedies like Kratom. These natural alternatives have not only allowed me to manage my pain but have also opened up a new chapter in my life where I can embrace each day with renewed hope and less pain.

    I firmly believe that nature has provided us with plants for a reason. It is our responsibility to understand their properties and how they can benefit us. My journey with Kratom is a testament to the power of natural healing, and I am committed to sharing this knowledge with others. By embracing what nature has to offer, we can discover paths to wellness that align with our bodies and the world around us.

  2. NJ already passed a Kratom Consumer Protection law. I have been using kratom for over 15 years to manage pain from nerve damage, amputation, and creeping arthrits. I own a house, have the same job for 10 years, am married and just trying to live my life the best way I can. This law will make criminals out of thousands of law abiding citizens.

    I’m sorry CJ died, but banning kratom is not the answer. There are over 500 people in the United State who die from Tylenol overdoses. There are 488 deaths *per day* from excessive alcohol consumption in the United States. I will be contacting my representative in the state legislature to voice my strong opposition to this kneejerk reaction.

  3. Please stop spreading misinformation. If you want the most up to date science about Kratom watch this congressional briefing.

    This is a recent congressional briefing on Kratom with experts from NIDA and John’s Hopkins on the benefit, potential uses, and safety. Also there is some really good info in here about the misinformation around deaths that had previously been labeled as Kratom overdoses