Kratom Popular in Colorado Despite FDA Concerns

Kratom leaves, pills, and powder sitting on top of a wood table

A relatively new drug is seeing a massive rise in popularity in the state of Colorado: kratom. Despite health warnings from the FDA about the drug, kratom is being sold in massive quantities throughout the state.

What is kratom? This herbal drug, Mitragyna speciosa, originally comes from Southeast Asia and has been used for centuries. It interacts with the same opioid receptors as drugs like morphine or prescription opioids and, as a result, it also has the potential for addiction, abuse and dependence. Even though some of these properties are known, the drug has not yet been classified as a controlled substance. Therefore, it’s not illegal at the federal level. This also means kratom is not regulated as a drug for sale ⁠— meaning there is a risk for contamination and it could contain toxic substances or other drugs.

This unregulated market is booming in Colorado. Just one Indonesian kratom farmer estimated that he alone sends about 10 tons of the drug each month to the state to keep up with demand. People are using kratom to get high and others are using the drug to try to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms as they attempt to wean themselves off of drugs like heroin or prescription opioids.

As kratom has seen a boom in Colorado, tragedy has followed. Between 2015 and 2018, the drug was present in 27 fatal overdoses in the state of Colorado. Coroners determined that kratom contributed to the overdose in 17 cases and, disturbingly, was the only factor in at least six fatal overdoses.

Colorado Law Surrounding Kratom

With the knowledge that the drug can be dangerous and even deadly, is kratom still legal in Colorado? The answer is both yes and no.

Kratom is still legal to possess in Colorado but it depends where you are exactly. In response to the negative health effects that people on the ground in the state have been witnessing, officials worked together to ban the sale of kratom for human consumption in the city of Denver.

Is the ban working? In some ways, it is. By banning the sale of kratom, authorities made a clear statement to the public that the drug is harmful. Nevertheless, stores and companies can still technically sell kratom so long as it is not labeled for human consumption.

Treatment for Kratom Addiction

Public health officials and researchers are still learning more about the drug, but it is quite clear at this point that kratom’s potential for addiction is real. Any drug that interacts with opioid receptors is habit-forming. In places like Indonesia or Malaysia where kratom has been around for a long time, the effects are known and kratom is illegal to buy and consume the drug. Right now, the U.S. is just catching up.

While the FDA and states are still deciding what to do about kratom, treatment centers are taking steps to offer kratom addiction treatment for people who are struggling. If you are struggling with addiction to kratom of another substance, reach out to The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake to learn more about treatment options. If you are struggling with opioid addiction, it’s never a good idea to try to detox at home or use drugs like kratom to treat withdrawal. Professional detox and treatment is safe and gives you the best chance of recovery. Contact us today to explore your options and get the help you deserve.

Sources:

Haarer, Ryan. “Colorado coroners link kratom to at least 23 deaths since 2016.” 9News.com, November 26, 2018. Accessed October 2, 2019.

Roberts, Michael. “Denver Bans Controversial Herbal Drug Kratom for Human Consumption.” Westword.com, November 20, 2017. Accessed October 2, 2019.

Roberts, Michael. “Tons of Kratom Being Sold in Colorado.” Westword.com, September 12, 2019. Accessed October 2, 2019.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “FDA and Kratom.” Accessed October 2, 2019. 

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Kratom.” Accessed October 2, 2019.