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Kratom ban bill discussed by Louisiana lawmakers

Posted at 3:05 AM, May 20, 2023

LAFAYETTE, La. — Next week, the Louisiana Senate will consider a bill classifying kratom as a Schedule I narcotic.

This classification means that kratom would be categorized alongside other substances such as heroin, LSD, marijuana, and peyote. The term Schedule I refers to substances that are not currently accepted for medical use and have a high likelihood of abuse.

The leaves of this tropical tree native to Southeast Asia can produce a stimulant-like effect when consumed. Local tobacco shops and gas stations here in Lafayette sell kratom pills, powders, and liquids.

Asher Lansiquot co-owner of Lit Smoke Shop, says that besides CBD kratom is the next highest product he sells. His customers tell him that taking the plant has been life-changing for them.

"It's very beneficial. I had a guy who was addicted to controlled substances, like a street drug and he told me that he took [kratom] and liked it, completely weened him off it, and saved his life."

Researchers at John Hopkins University found an 87% reduction in opioid withdrawal symptoms after using kratom in a study of 2700 consumers. In addition, 35% became opioid-free after using kratom for a year.

Soren Shade founder of Top Tree Herbs, a company that sells kratom tea believes a ban would only lead to unregulated and dangerous substances being sold in Louisiana.

"If they were to ban kratom in Louisiana, it would result in a more dangerous environment for kratom users and it would also mean that what is now a taxable product would not be taxed and the money would solely into the hands who are dealing in the black market."

Those who support kratom advocate strongly for its accessibility to everyone.

"I'm just not seeing what's the issue with it you know? A lot of people rely on this, its saved lives and taken people off certain medications that they didn't want to be on," Lansiquot said.

"Prohibition has never resulted in increased consumer safety," Shade expressed. "Prohibition has resulted in increased dangers to consumers of prohibited substances, that's just a fact of history."

If passed, Louisiana Senate House Bills 94 and 14 would ban kratom in Louisiana and criminalize its use. The Kratom Consumer Protection Act will also be discussed, which prohibits the distribution and sale of contaminated kratom products.

The bill is set to be discussed on Monday.