Senate Panel Cautious on Kratom Ban


Posted on May 17, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. — A proposal to ban the use of kratom in North Carolina met with a lukewarm reception in the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday, as members asked for more data on the drug and its effects.

Kratom, sometimes called ketom, is a medicinal plant native to Southeast Asia. While not technically an opioid, it acts on opioid receptors, offering some of the same effects, though some users have reported stimulative qualities as well.

It's typically brewed in a tea. Packets of the herb can be bought online, as well as at stores that sell drug paraphernalia and even at some gas stations. There is no age limit for sales in most states, including North Carolina.

Advocates for kratom say it offers relief for chronic pain and has helped some former addicts to stop using opioids. But its detractors say it's highly addictive and could pose a public health threat. Thailand, where the plant originated, banned its use in 1943.

Senate Bill 830 would add kratom to the state's controlled substances list along with opioids. Sponsor Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Scotland, said he spoke with the state's medical examiner about what he says is the growing use of the drug.

"Twenty-three bodies they’ve had on the slab over there have tested positive for kratom," McInnis told the committee. "It’s time to put the brakes on this product before the next epidemic starts."

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