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Questions surrounding kratom surface after fatal car wreck

Kratom is currently classified as a “drug of concern” by the Drug Enforcement Agency, but it is...
Kratom is currently classified as a “drug of concern” by the Drug Enforcement Agency, but it is still legal to buy and sell in over 40 different states.
Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 8:26 AM CDT
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D’IBERVILLE, Miss. (WLOX) - On the heels of an automobile accident that claimed the life of an Airmen on Keesler Air Force Base, many are beginning to ask questions regarding kratom. Police said the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of marijuana and kratom at the time of the crash.

Kratom is currently classified as a “drug of concern” by the Drug Enforcement Agency, but it is still legal to buy and sell in over 40 different states. Millions now use the plant medicinally in the United States. Still, the plant does present some dangers.

The American Addiction Centers website lists three dangers with kratom in particular: the possibility of addiction, the lack of regulation and possible negative drug interactions when combined in large doses with other drugs. It is not listed as a controlled substance so it is largely unregulated, which can lead to dangers that consumers are unaware of.

Still, there are hundreds of shops scattered in almost every state in the country. Many of them operate in good faith under the belief that the plant should be utilized more in the medical world.

”Kratom is a natural tea leaf; it is from southeast Asia. It has been used to relieve pain, anxiety, stress, depression. I have seen it with my own eyes save many lives,” said Koast Kratom owner Pamela Grafton.

The plant has been heavily used medicinally in Asia since the 19th century. Now it is becoming more prevalent in the U.S.

“Kratom comes in powder form or capsules. Usually, when you take it in the powder form people mix it with like juice or tea,” Grafton said.

The Food and Drug Administration is still warning against the product as the administration wants to conduct more research on its effects. Local sellers are not slowing down though. They believe the plant is working wonders for millions battling afflictions. They say different strands or types of the plant have different effects and can be utilized for a variety of purposes.

“The white is more like an energy, the green is more relaxed, and the red is more for pain,” said Zenfully Bliss owner Tracy Castaneda.

Castaneda swears by Kratom. Years ago, she had a devastating fall that seriously damaged her jaw and mouth. She searched endlessly for relief to the pain, claiming many in the medical world said she was beyond help.

”It felt like someone had punched me in my face and I lived like this for years. There was no hope in sight,” Castaneda said.

Then she stumbled upon kratom. Since then, she has utilized the plant for pain management frequently, but she is not the only one who has seen positive outcomes while using kratom. Some community members said their doctors actually recommended it instead of pain medication.

”I have a real bad spine. As a matter of fact, I just had an injection Monday on my spine, I have had four other injections on my spine,” said Gerald Stanley. “My pain management doctor actually recommended I try kratom as an alternative to using too many oxycodones.”

The plant isn’t really regulated, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited it as a cause of death 91 times in a recent study. However, in all but seven of those cases the patients had other drugs in their system.

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