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Missouri lawmaker proposes bill to ban kratom

The FDA warns against using the plant from Southeast Asia, but some Heartland kratom users...
The FDA warns against using the plant from Southeast Asia, but some Heartland kratom users argue it's a substitute to opioids and other medications. (Source: KFVS 12)(Nathan Ellgren)
Updated: Feb. 7, 2020 at 11:41 PM CST
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A Missouri lawmaker is trying to black-list the drug kratom, but people who use it in the Heartland are coming to it’s defense.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is still warning consumers not to use kratom, also known as Mitragyna speciosa a medicinal plant grown in Southeast Asia.

Senator Bob Onder of St. Charles proposed SB 765 which would make kratom a Schedule 1 substance, potentially putting it at the same level as ecstasy, heroin, and meth.

“Those are some major drugs. Kratom is not that,” said Nicolette Husk.

Husk, a mother of three also suffers from severe anxiety and is a daily user of kratom.

“I’m able to wake up every morning go about my day like a normal person and I don’t feel like I took anything," Husk said. “If they were to ban kratom that would ultimately take away thousands of people’s livelihoods from them.”

Two years ago Husk switched her daily treatment plan from taking several prescription pills to just two doses of kratom.

“For me this is a better option because it is natural. It is plant based,” Husk said. "I have the option of going to the grocery store to buy organic products, then why should I not have that option when it comes to getting a supplement.”

Right now there are no FDA-approved uses from kratom.

On the federal agency’s website it mentions getting concerning reports about the safety of kratom, and in certain kratom products the FDA found traces of heavy metals and salmonella.

The FDA also warns that kratom’s opioid like properties can put consumers at risk of addiction, abuse and dependence.

Ashley Bollinger works at Karmic Genesis and disagrees with the FDA’s warnings.

“Anything can be addictive. I mean coffee is addictive," Bollinger said. "Kratom is helpful. Yes it reacts with the opioid receptors in your brain, but it’s also a more natural alternative to taking your pain pills.”

Bollinger said the store in Cape Girardeau sells kratom to people with a variety of ailments and ages.

“People come in everyday anywhere from 20 to 70 years old. People dealing with pain, anxiety, PTSD and arthritis,” Bollinger said.

Last year the FDA sent warning letters to two kratom distributors for adding unproven claims to products labels about their ability to treat opioid addiction, anxiety, pain, depression, and cancer.

Bollinger hopes Senate Bill 765 does not move forward and instead supports the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, which has passed in other state like Georgia and Utah.

Instead of an outright ban, the act aims to make kratom products safer.

“It would pretty much be like a Surgeon General’s warning," Bollinger said. "So that we can make sure everything is still regulated, but it’s still available for the customers and everybody that needs it.”

Both the FDA and regular consumers want more research to be done to better understand kratom’s safety profile.

Heartland News made numerous attempts to reach Sen. Onder for a comment on the proposed bill, but never heard back.

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