Alabama recently became the sixth state to ban the herbal supplement kratom over concerns about its potential for addiction, according to the Associated Press. Wisconsin, Vermont, Tennessee, Indiana and Arkansas have also banned the supplement.
Alabama classified kratom as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and Ecstasy. More states are also considering banning kratom, which is often sold as a pain treatment.
Kratom is a plant that originates in Southeast Asia. The drug is categorized as a botanic dietary supplement. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot restrict the sale of kratom unless it is proved unsafe, or manufacturers claim it treats a medical condition. The FDA banned the import of kratom into the United States in 2014.
Kratom is not controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed kratom as a “drug and chemical of concern,” and notes on its website that there is no legitimate medical use for kratom in the United States.
According to the DEA, at low doses, kratom produces stimulant effects with users reporting increased alertness, physical energy, and talkativeness. At high doses, users experience sedative effects.
Powdered forms of kratom are sold in head shops, gas station convenience stores and online. According to the AP, soon after Alabama outlawed the supplement, products such as brightly colored “Krazy Kratom” bottles were removed from shelves of gas stations, head shops and other retailers.