Louisiana law passed this summer could ban Kratom

Updated: Aug. 14, 2019 at 6:00 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Kratom, derived from a plant native to Southeast Asia, is currently legal in Louisiana.

Kratom is a plant-based substance that can be bought as a pill, powder or extract.

Many users say it helps increase energy and alleviate pain.

“It’s very energy derived, it just makes you feel good," said Shay Johnston.

Johnston owns HighRoller Vape-n-Smoke Shop in Lake Charles.

He said different strains of the plant help with different issues.

However, not everyone views Kratom in such a positive light.

“I talked to a lot of people that actually had to deal with drug courts, and they were saying how addictive it was," said State Representative Chris Turner.

Turner spearheaded a law in Louisiana that passed this summer that will make Kratom illegal in the state if the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug.

Schedule 1 drugs are classified as those with no known medical benefit, and high potential for abuse.

“I found out that the DEA was not ready to move on banning it, so that’s when we added the amendment we would just follow what the DEA would do as far as Kratom research being done on the drug,” Turners said.

Kratom has shown negative effects including seizures and even death, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Because of this, and little scientific evidence of health benefits from the plant, Turner said he’ll continue pushing for research and regulation.

“Bringing legislation that will regulate it, that way it’s not being sold at per say a gas station, because you know, you’re not going to find this at a good health food store," Turner said.

But Johnston is staying adamant that it’s a natural and healthy substance, that he’s seen help countless customers.

“It’s just healthy, organic stuff," Johnston said. "What’s wrong with eating a leaf, drinking it.”

So now, the future of Kratom in the state rests in the hands of the DEA.

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