ATLANTA — Agent Ken Howard with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation knows the drugs you would never think are in your communities.
“Just because it’s not against the law doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t intervene,” said Howard. “I’ve looked behind the curtain, I’ve seen some of the individuals involved in the importation of Kratom, marketing of the Kratom and the distribution of the Kratom here in the states, they’re less than reputable.”
“They hang a shingle out front and they represent themselves as a legitimate vitamin wholesaler…whereas at first glance you might look at it on the outside and think, okay this is a legitimate vitamin wholesaler selling nutritional supplements, just like many people buy when they go to the gym to work out, but then when you go behind the scenes and look at how they’re bringing the Kratom in, how it’s being stored on site, how it’s being packaged in capsules and then put out on the streets that along with the other things I just told you, it’s troubling to me,” said Howard.
Dr. Gaylord Lopez, Director of the Georgia Poison Center has concerns about Kratom as well. He says they have taken several calls from emergency rooms with health workers looking for information on treating someone who has ingested the substance.
“You gotta realize that none of these drugs have been tested in humans, so there’s no testing that we can predict the signs, the symptoms would come in a person,” said Lopez.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an alert on Kratom, allowing the agency to detain shipments into the country. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says it can be addictive and abused.
“Some of the symptoms we’ve seen with people withdrawing include sweats, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shakiness, agitation, psychotic behavior, paranoia, these are really dangerous symptoms and they could even drive people over the edge,” said Lopez.
Howard says some people use the drug to get off Heroin, or hold them over until their next dose, but he is also seeing it geared toward your children.
Some supporters of Kratom say the substance is misunderstood. They say there are two forms of Kratom, the natural plant form that is safe and pure, and an altered form that may be spiked with other drugs.
Advocates for Kratom say it is the altered form that is dangerous.
While there is no law on the books in Georgia banning the substance, Howard say the hands of law enforcement are pretty much tied.
A few states like Tennessee have taken steps to ban Kratom and the DEA says some countries like Australia, and Thailand have made it a controlled substance
Still Howard and Dr. Lopez still warn parents to be alert.
“Our advice is don’t even mess with the stuff. You are literally playing Russian roulette with a product that has nothing safe about it, it had no purported or no known positive outcomes. Stay away,” said Lopez.