- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A little-known drug derived from the leaves of a Southeast Asian tree would be added to Louisiana’s list of illegal narcotics, under a bill advanced to the full House for consideration.

Depending on how much is ingested, Kratom can act as either a stimulant known to make users irritable, or a depressant with an opium-like effect, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier told the House criminal justice committee Tuesday.

“Whether you want to be rockin’ and rollin’ or relaxed depends on how much you take,” DeRosier said of the substance, which can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18.

Kratom - which can be smoked, ingested in gel tabs or steeped in tea - is on the Drug Enforcement Agencies list of “Drugs and Chemicals of Concern.”

DeRosier said packets of the drug, which retail for around $35 each, were recently the focus of a criminal investigation after the owner of a Lake Charles smoke shop reported the theft of $60,000 worth of Kratom from his business.

“We started researching it then and discovered” Kratom is becoming “more and more prevalent as a drug of choice, especially among young people,” DeRosier said.

The drug, which has been marketed on the Internet as “alternative medicine,” has “no legitimate medical use,” according to the DEA.

The criminal justice committee approved the prohibition bill (House Bill 174) by Rep. Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte, without objection.

___

A proposal aimed at making it easier for veterans to get a college degree in Louisiana started moving in the Legislature, winning approval Tuesday from the House Education Committee.

The bill (House Bill 485) by Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, would create a “Governor’s Military and Veteran Friendly Campus” designation for schools that meet a list of requirements intended to ease the transition to campus for students with a military background.

“This is basically like a veterans’ seal of approval for a university,” said Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans.

For veterans, the campus would be required to waive application fees, provide specialized orientation programs, offer priority class scheduling and adopt policies that allow for quick readmission after deployment, among other things.

The Board of Regents would handle the application review.

The education committee backed the measure without objection, sending it to the full House for debate.

___

Lawmakers are considering whether to change the terms used to describe the crime of sexual assault.

Authorities currently use “simple rape”, “forcible rape” and “aggravated rape” to describe the varying degrees of sexual assault charges.

Under a bill (House Bill 139) backed by the House criminal justice committee Tuesday, those terms would be changed to third-degree rape, second-degree rape and first-degree rape.

Proponents of the changes said they are galled that the criminal justice system uses terms like “simple rape” to describe a serious crime.

“There is no such thing as a simple rape,” Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, the bill sponsor told the committee.

The measure heads next to the House floor for consideration.

___

Online:

Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide