BAY COUNTY, Fla. – Kratom is a plant based drug that in most cases, offers relief from pain but officials say what’s in the drug is still a mystery, and because of that the FDA has deemed it unsafe.
Concerns surrounding the drug are growing as obtaining Kratom becomes even easier in cities across the United States.
Panama City Beach is commonly known as a hot destination for beaches and tourism but now known as a hot spot for purchasing Kratom.
Kratom is a plant-based designer drug that is said to offer relief from pain, depression, and anxiety. The FDA has been monitoring the drug for years and say now it’s time to take it off the streets. “Still so much medical research has not been done on what happens in the body when you ingest it or when you take it in, in whatever form,” said BCSO Spokesperson, Ruth Corley.
There are currently no FDA approved therapeutic uses of Kratom because of the lack of knowledge of what the drug consists of. Kratom is native to Southeast Asia and is being classified as dangerous by the FDA regardless of how natural and safe people believe it to be.
“A lot of people think, it’s natural or it’s a plant, but there are a lot… well heroin comes from a plant. It still can be dangerous and still can be deadly if you’re using it inappropriately,” said Corley.
Those using it say it’s worth the risk–most using the drug to help treat opioid withdrawal. People are moving away from regular medication and turning to Kratom and a similar– also legal drug called “CBD” oil to help treat their ailments.
“My doctor is fixing to put me on this permanently. I’m on some really strong pain meds at home and we want to do away with them so I thought I’d try it and see if it actually worked,” said a user of the pain reliever.
However, recent studies show the drug itself contains opioid properties. “It’s reacting in the body pretty much like an opioid. Pretty much like a heroin or hydrocodone, it’s a depressant,” said Corley.
While Kratom is legal now, it may not be for long. 7 states and select counties have banned the drug. Sarasota County in Florida is just one of the few that have a ban on the drug already.