N.C. bill seeks to ban Asian herb kratom

by The Wilson Times

Posted on May 20, 2016


RALEIGH — A recently introduced bill has some worried about an Asian herb used to treat narcotic addiction being outlawed.

State Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, filed Senate Bill 830 last week. The legislation would add mitragynine — an alkaloid in the plant kratom — to the controlled substances list, alongside heroin and morphine.

Kratom leaves have been traditionally chewed by people in Thailand, especially on the southern peninsula, as well as in other countries in Southeast Asia, according to a 2011 report from the Transnational Institute, which recommended it be decriminalized. In southern Thailand, traditional kratom use is not perceived as “drug use” and does not lead to

stigmatization.

The bill would also appropriate $25,000 from the General Fund to the N.C. Department of Public Safety to be allocated to the State Bureau of Investigation to assist with operating costs.

McInnis told the Daily Journal on Wednesday that he introduced the bill to “get a conversation started.”

“It’s not anywhere close to being on the floor,” he said.

Citing reports from the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, McInnis said kratom has been found during the autopsies of 23 people — plus or minus other illegal or prescription drugs in 14 of those— in the past five years. Six of those have been this year.

The senator said it appears to be an upward trend, comparing it to the rise of crack cocaine and crystal meth.

“I believe it has the potential to be the next epidemic in our state,” he said.

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