There's a new dangerous, synthetic drug called "flakka" that has law enforcement and the medical community very concerned about its growing popularity.

Broward County, Florida Sheriff's Office Detective Christian Peralta searches a stolen vehicle for any signs of drugs, including the drug known as Flakka. NJ authorities and legislators are concerned abut the popularity of the drug. (Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

Also known as "flocka," the drug can be snorted, smoked, injected and even vaped like an e-cigarette. It can cause paranoia as well as violent, bizarre and self-destructive behavior. A vial of "flakka" can be easily purchased for $5 or less.

"The problem with this is the long-term effects," said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Paramus). "This isn't an innocuous drug. This is something that can affect your mental environment for the rest of your life. These are very dangerous things. We've got to keep kids away from them (and) hopefully make them illegal as soon as possible."

A bill (A-4456) co-sponsored by Eustace would criminalize the possession, manufacture and sale of "flakka" or "flocka" by adding the drug to the existing list of similar prohibited controlled substances.

"People take this drug. They have psychotic breaks. They attack people, relatives, people they're hanging out with and they don't even realize what they're doing," Eustace said.

"Flakka" is the same class of chemical used to make bath salts. In April of 2011, the New Jersey Attorney General banned the sale of bath salts. The prohibition has since been codified by law.

"We want to be ahead of this before this becomes a tragedy like the heroin problem we're having right now," Eustace said.

Technically, "flakka' is alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, alpha-PVP has been cited in multiple cases of violent behavior resulting in harm to self or others and death.

The immediate and long-term effects of "flakka" can be similar to those of someone who uses the strongest cocaine or crystal meth.

Under the legislation:

  • Possessing, manufacturing or selling one ounce or more of "flakka" would be a crime of the second degree;
  • A second degree crime is punishable by five to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $150,000 or both;
  • Possessing, manufacturing or selling less than one ounce would be a crime of the third degree; and
  • A third degree crime is punishable by three to five years behind bars, a fine of up to $15,000 or both.

"Often individuals who use flakka present a danger not only to themselves, but also to those they may encounter while under the influence of this drug," said bill co-sponsor, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-) in a press release statement. "This ban is about making sure the people of New Jersey - including the trained professionals who respond to emergencies associated with flakka use - are safe from harm."

According to the website www.policeone.com there are three truly bizarre "flakka" related crimes in Florida alone since the drug burst on the scene in 2013:

  • One man ran naked through a neighborhood, tried to have sexual intercourse with a tree and told police he was the mythical god Thor.
  • A man ran nude through busy streets in the middle of the day because he was convinced a pack of German shepherds was chasing him.
  • Two users ran into the Fort Lauderdale Police Department because they were sure police were chasing them and one ultimately impaled himself on a fence.

The bill is also co-sponsored by Assemblymen Adam Taliaferro (D-West Deptford) and Dan Benson (D-Hamilton). It was referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.