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Another New Drug Threat

It’s called Kratom. It’s the leaf of an Asian tree that has been used in oriental medicine as a stimulant. In Thailand, the tree is illegal to grow or use and the leaves are a scheduled narcotic. But, as with other substances that have escaped the attention of the DEA, Kratom is legal in the United States.

According to the DEA fact sheet the leaves are usually made into a tea, but can also be chewed. Users can purchase them on the Internet or in local head shops as an “herbal tea.”

One University of Mississippi study showed that what’s being marketed as Kratom is often supplemented with other substances, in the manner that K-2 and other “spice” type products were supplemented with synthetic drugs to make them attractive to addicts. According to a report from a DEA newsfeed, random samples of the drug sold at retail was “laced with powerful painkillers, like Hydrocodone and morphine.”

It looks like the plan is to sell a relatively innocuous product as a healthy pain relieving alternative, but adding powerful drugs to it to build brand recognition and sales. Users quickly learn what to buy to get the high they want.

While currently Kratom is more of a problem in Florida and Louisiana, we saw only a couple of years ago how quickly so-called “legal highs” spread across the nation as businesses tapped into this highly profitable sideline.

Unlike those days however, legislation that followed the spread of synthetics sold as bath salts is in place that allows many states to take emergency action to ban products that are deemed harmful. Law enforcement and health regulators are much better prepared than they were, even five years ago, to react quickly and get bad products off the shelves, even busting those otherwise legitimate businesses who sell banned products.

Internet sales may be harder to stop, but look for quick action by Mississippi law enforcement – as soon as they get the go ahead to act.

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