Kratom Supplement Linked to String of Deaths

Kratom is a herbal supplement sold nationwide but recently, it's been rocking political debates of how it should be classified and regulated in the United States.

The supplement comes from dried leaves of in the coffee family and has been used in Southeast Asia for centuries. In the last few years, kratom has become a hot commodity in the U.S., where patrons can grab the supplement in gas stations, vape shops, bars, and in online stores. But the leaves in Southeast Asia may be different than what Americans are consuming as kratom in the States.

Kratom can have varying degrees of stimulation. At low doses, it can help relieve aches and pain, depression, anxiety and even aid with opioid withdrawal. When taken in higher doses, it can produce a euphoric state.

In the past few years, however, dozens of deaths have been linked to kratom.

On July 18th, a Washington state jury found Wendianne Rock and her company, Society Botanicals, LLC, liable for the death of Patrick Coyne, a 39-year-old who was found dead after using kratom. This is the first jury verdict in a civil claim against a kratom manufacturer in the U.S. The jury awarded $2.5 million dollars to Coyne's family.

The FDA warns Americans that kratom can become addictive. It's also not regulated as a drug and comes in varying forms like powders, capsules, and drinkable concentrates. Five states — Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin — have banned kratom.

The American Kratom Association says the supplement is a billion-dollar business in the U.S. with nearly five million Americans using kratom. They are asking for government regulation and the Kratom Consumer Protection Act.

In 2019, the CDC released a report that found that kratom killed nearly 100 people in 17 months. Many of the people who died had other drugs in their systems as well.

The news of whether kratom will be regulated in the U.S. is still up for debate, and as more deaths occur, legalization may become more challenging.

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