Arizona's list of illegal drugs soon could include kratom, an herbal product that's been used as medicine in certain Asian countries for centuries.
Kratom's been for sale legally in certain stores around Phoenix for several years now, but the annual proposed update of Arizona's banned drugs includes the alkaloids in kratom.
Former New Times writer Niki D'Andrea took a look at kratom in 2011, finding that some people used kratom as an herbal medicine, while some used it for recreation, and either way, the DEA was against it.
Kratom's reported to have opioid-like effects, but not powerful to the extent of say, morphine -- some say there's not really a "high" associated with it. Those who tout its medicinal effects say it's effective in combating opioid addiction, but what little research has been done on the substance's effects seems to show otherwise. Still, many users swear by it as a great herbal remedy.
Either way, if history tells us anything, this substance is on the fast track to being banned under the "narcotic drugs" category.
In recent years, Arizona legislators have been updating the list of banned drugs to keep up with new synthetic drugs or "research chemicals" that are being sold in head shops and elsewhere.
Two main alkaloids found in kratom are on that list.
These bills banning new drugs have been met with no resistance or real hesitation by legislators in recent years, especially amid the horror stories emerging from around the state of how people have been behaving after ingesting the substances known as "bath salts" or "spice."
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In the 2012 and 2013 versions of the bill, all the votes have been unanimous in every committee and every floor vote in the House and Senate. Governor Jan Brewer signed both bills, which had emergency clauses, meaning they became effective immediately.
This year's bill, House Bill 2453, is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning.
We've sent a message to the bill's sponsor, Republican Representative Eddie Farnsworth, asking him to explain the reasoning behind adding kratom to the list. We'll update this post when we get a response.