Over the past several years, we’ve seen many products labeled as “designer drugs”. Things like K2, Bath Salts, and Spice have all made their way across the country, enjoying some time in the media spotlight. Each one of these substances has then been labeled a dangerous drug and criminalized. Now, according to a report from CBS Dallas-Fort Worth, there’s a new drug to add to the list.
Kratom is a substance you can apparently find at local smoke shops. It’s a liquid derived from a leafy tree in Thailand. Already illegal in that country, Kratom is considered an herbal remedy for pain and an alternative to opium.
Here, you can find it at an increasing number of smoke shops, where clerks say it works to relieve pain, enhance mood, and even prolong sex. As for the warning on the side that reads “not for human consumption,” clerks selling Kratom can’t explain that.
“The liquid is one of the best sellers and one of my personal favorites,” said one clerk interviewed by CBS.
Like other “designer drugs” before it, Kratom is not regulated by the FDA because it is sold as a natural supplement rather than a drug or medication. However, like the ones before it, if Kratom grows in popularity, there’s a good chance the government will ban it completely.
A January 2013 report from the DEA found the substance to have sedative and euphoric effects and could potentially lead to addiction, nausea, and other side effects. The North Texas Poison Center has received calls on the drug and says it has been linked to high pulse, high blood pressure, confusion, and agitation.
Some are concerned that the drug is being laced with other drugs, even hydrocodone. The DEA has been seizing some imports at the border for testing and finding the Thai tree extract isn’t the only thing inside.
For now, Kratom is legal. But like its predecessors, that could change if it starts getting more media coverage and public backlash. If and when that happens, drug possession charges could be levied to those who have the liquid, and drug distribution charges to those who still try and sell it.
The War on Drugs is an ineffective war. If anything, it has helped fuel the current drug trade and has created a demand for products like Kratom. While no one would suggest things like heroin and cocaine are good for you, we know arrest and incarceration isn’t going to help.
And with a majority of Texans supporting marijuana legalization, there is simply no reason why potentially dangerous substances like this need to be a legal “alternative” to pot.