More states are on a mad rush to ban kratom, the new substance that serves as an opioid replacement and is a hundred times less deadly than synthetic opioids. Despite earlier accounts of the therapeutic effects of kratom, Alabama became the latest state to ban the plant and place its active ingredients on the controlled substance list, according to a news release.
Originating from Thailand and Malaysia, kratom is still relatively new in the United States. It was banned by the Thai government in 1943 due to fears that it could destroy the opium tax revenue that the nation depended on. With cannabis no longer on the list of banned substances, it looks like there is a new plant that is set to take its place.
Kratom is available in different varieties—red vein, green vein, and white vein. Popular branded capsules with different names such as Krave are already in circulation, prompting some states to ban the plant-based drug.
The American Kratom Association revealed that anti-kratom legislation is already in the works in the states of Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky. Democrat Senator Arthur Orr was the sponsor of the Alabama bill that placed kratom’s active ingredients mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine as Schedule I.
While natural kratom is a relatively harmless plant, the active ingredient mitragynine binds opioid brain receptors – the same receptors that react to morphine, heroin, and oxycodone. Although it is much less potent than painkillers or heroin, kratom has similar qualities such as withdrawal symptoms as well as the habit-forming nature that all opioids have. Mitragynine does not bind strongly as synthetic opioids, but the same principle applies.
If there is one redeeming quality of kratom, it has to be its ability to become a gateway drug in order to escape opioid addiction. It may come in handy to a pill popper or a heroin addict. Still, a lot of research may be needed to fully understand the controversial plant, including its benefits and risks.