By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
May 20, 2016
RALEIGH – Members of the N.C. Senate Committee on Healthcare got a crash course on “kratom” this week and will learn more about the psychoactive, plant-based, recreational drug next week as they continue to consider Senate Bill 830.
Proposed by Sen. Tom McInniss (R-Richmond), the legislation would deem kratom a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance and ban it from the Tar Heel state.
“It’s sold in beautiful, bright packages with sexy names with no limit to quality, quantity, or age,” McInnis said of the substance he fears could be the next big epidemic. “Easily available to children, sold on the streets, convenience stores and over the internet.”
Popular among college students as a study aid and among some people with chronic pain, kratom produces stimulant effects at low doses and sedative effects at high doses. The DEA considers it a “drug or chemical of concern” with no legitimate medical use.
Labeled an herbal product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, leaves from the kratom tree, which is native to Southeast Asia, are sold as tea leaves, in powder form, liquid shots or as capsules.
Though used by some to relieve migraine headaches or other pain or even as a means of battling opioid addiction, the substance cannot legally be advertised as a remedy for any medical condition. Its widespread use is of growing concern to healthcare and government officials nationwide.
“We have identified kratom as a botanical substance that could pose a risk to public health and have the potential for abuse,” said Melinda Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.
A December 2012 article in “The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association,” said that during the past three years, there have been “an increasing number of case reports describing unusual adverse reactions in patients who had been using kratom or kratom-based products.”
The study showed that as kratom use has expanded to Europe and the United States, there have been “increasing reports of individuals becoming physically dependent on or addicted to kratom.”
Already banned in a number of foreign countries and six U.S. states, kratom can cause respiratory depression, vomiting, nervousness, weight loss and constipation. Long-term side effects include anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, skin darkening, dry mouth and frequent urination.
According to the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office, over the past four years, kratom’s main ingredient, mitragynine, has shown up in the bodies of 23 descendents, including eight last year and six so far in 2016.
Lawmakers on the Senate Committee on Healthcare will hear from experts from the N.C. Crime Lab and Medical Examiner’s Office as well as district attorneys next week, and the public will also be able to comment on the bill before it goes to a vote.
“Another addictive, opioid-like drug being marketed to our young people is certainly not what we need in North Carolina,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We’re glad to see lawmakers taking a close look at this substance to determine whether it should be banned.”