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Could using kratom land you in jail?

Several years ago, when the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics attempted to ban the sale and use of the plant-based kratom, users and advocates vociferously defended its legitimate usage. The ban never took effect, and kratom remains legal here in Oklahoma.

That could change in the future, as the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzed the substance — a derivative of a plant indigenous to Southeast Asia — and found it to contain opioids. Used for centuries in that region as a natural pain remedy, its close link to regulated opioid drugs could spell doom for legal kratom in the United States.

Scientists conducted analyses of 25 chemical compounds in kratom. Their conclusion was that the compounds act similar to those in morphine and other opiate-based drugs.

According to the FDA, there have been 44 deaths since 2011 that have reportedly been linked to kratom. That is eight more than were reported in November.

Kratom can be purchased as a powder or in capsules. Users claim that it is safer than traditional opioids and can treat opiate dependence, anxiety and pain.

The commissioner of the FDA recently stated that there are no medical uses approved by the FDA for kratom. He stated, "Claiming that kratom is benign because it's 'just a plant' is shortsighted and dangerous. It's an opioid."

In recent months, inspectors with the FDA have seized and destroyed shipments of kratom that arrived at international mail facilities.

The agency also passed along its findings to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). That law enforcement agency is now mulling whether to designate kratom as a Schedule I drug like LSD and heroin.

If the law changes and you wind up in legal difficulties over kratom use, it's best to learn all that you can about your defense options.

Source: KOKH, "Kratom users fight back," accessed Feb. 09, 2018

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