The rose-colored world of planet kratom

The rose-colored world of planet kratom

If the council wants to ban those products, we’ll listen. But for now, the issue is kratom. Here, we don’t consider the debate in the context of a councilman who’s perceived to be pro-drug or law …

Most of us wouldn’t e-mail a check routing number to someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince.

Few of us would consider forking over hard-earned cash on the basis of a stock tip whispered into the ear. Some people won’t even get the tires rotated without checking references for a good car mechanic.

Your body is not like a checking account, a mutual fund portfolio or a car. You can’t close it, junk it or start all over again. Your body, for better or worse, is the only one you’ll ever get.

Yet, people can base decisions on what to put into their bodies on the flimsiest of anecdotal evidence. We see this with medical marijuana, where voters rushed to legalize based less on hard science and more on stories of a guy who knew a guy who really benefited from smoking it.

We’re not making a moral judgment on medical cannabis, because one cannot discount these stories about benefits for those suffering from pain and certain medical conditions. We only note that the tendency to self-diagnose, combined with a lack of medical research, creates a dangerous potential to overuse without considering long-term consequences.

Into this nebulous world comes a new supplement, kratom, which sounds more like a science fiction planet than actual medicine. Across the country, states and cities are considering various bans on an unregulated herbal product used to relieve pain and anxiety.

Skeptics, including the Food and Drug Administration, said kratom affects the brain like an opioid and exposes users to a risk of addition, abuse and dependence. Based on the recommendation from an opioid task force, Mayor Bill McMurray proposes an ordinance to prohibit kratom’s sale in smoke shops across the city.

This generated pushback from Councilman Brian Myers. He raised concerns about a black market and cited statistics that show similar numbers of deaths connected to kratom and caffeine pills. The logical question is, why not ban coffee or energy drinks?

This is a red herring. Medical research shows that most caffeine overdoses come from over-the-counter weight-loss supplements and pills containing a super-concentrated version of the drug. If the council wants to ban those products, we’ll listen.

But for now, the issue is kratom. Here, we don’t consider the debate in the context of a councilman who’s perceived to be pro-drug or law enforcement with an entrenched position that may seem out of step with evolving views on these things.

We simply wish to take off the rose-colored glasses so we can see the evidence — not stories from the gym — but fact-based, medical research that shows the benefits weighed against the drawbacks.

While we’re waiting, we support McMurray and his proposed ban.

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