A ‘growing problem,’ kratom products banned

Published 6:26 pm Thursday, May 12, 2016

The state of Alabama has outlawed a substance officials said is becoming an increasing problem, forcing local businesses to cease selling products containing kratom.

Local police agencies are preparing to enforce the new law, with Sheriff John Shearon issuing a warning through the department’s website and C.J. Robinson with the District Attorney’s office preparing a notification to send to fuel stations, where kratom products are typically found.

Kratom is an evergreen tree in the coffee family found in Indochina and Malaysia, and used in raw form by people there to manage pain, anxiety and alcohol dependence.

Many forms: Kratom products, which have been banned in Alabama, including liquid form (pictured), pills, powder and a leafy substance.

Many forms: Kratom products, which have been banned in Alabama, including liquid form (pictured), pills, powder and a leafy substance.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has stated kratom is not controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act but has listed the substance as a “Drug and Chemical of Concern.”

There is no FDA-approved medical use for kratom in the United States.

Because of its legality, kratom products were increasingly being used as recreational drugs, Robinson said.

“It was sold in a liquid shot bottle, as a powder, pill form and as a leafy substance that can brewed into a tea,” Robinson said. “It’s being branded as an energy substance and painkiller, but there is not a single medical diagnosis or treatment for which this is a prescribed substance.

“I’m being told that the addiction to these substances is through the roof. It’s a growing problem. It’s an epidemic in some areas. I can’t say it had gotten to that level in our county yet, but it was moving in that direction quickly.”

Adverse side effects to use of kratom products include palpitation, seizure, myalgia, insomnia, fatigue and chest discomfort.

Shearon said in a release that all forms of the drug are to be surrendered, including Viva Zen, Medical Grade Kratom, K Chill, Green Wen Extra Strength, and Zombie Matter.

“This illegal substance can be snorted, smoked or orally consumed in pill or liquid form,” Shearon said. “It has similar effects to heroin and causes a high euphoria sensation. It is known to slow mental and heart function. It may also slow breathing enough to be life-threatening.”

Shearon encouraged parents to talk with children about the drug because of its accessibility prior to the state ban.

The sheriff’s office can be reached at (205) 755-4698 by anyone seeking more information.

Robinson said Thursday he was working on a letter to send to all fuel stations in the circuit, including about 50 in Chilton County, about the new state law and notify business owners that they will have a reasonable amount of time to remove the products from their shelves.

A similar approach was taken when spice, or synthetic marijuana, was banned several years ago.

“I don’t know of a single arrest we had in Chilton County for stores that failed to remove spice from their shelves,” Robinson said. “We’re already getting cooperating from stores in our area, contacting us about it being taken off the shelves and asking if law enforcement can come get it.”