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Is Kratom Legal in Missouri?

kratom leaf, powder and pillsKratom is a controversial herb derived from Mitragyna speciose, a tropical evergreen tree commonly found in southeast Asia. Proponents claim kratom naturally and effectively boosts energy, elevates mood, relieves pain, and alleviates side effects of opiate withdrawal. The herb has been used for centuries for its stimulant, sedative, and psychoactive effects.

Although research into the safety and efficacy of kratom has been inconclusive, organizations like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) caution against its use. Because kratom is not held to the same standards of testing as prescription drugs, it is impossible to know the strength, purity, or toxic effect of any given dose.

NIDA cites statistics from the National Poison Data System that, “between 2011-2017 there were 11 deaths associated with kratom exposure.” In nine of those deaths, other legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or caffeine were also found in the decedents. The other two deaths were attributed to kratom alone. NIDA also states that in 2017, “the FDA identified at least 44 deaths related to kratom.”

According to NIDA, deaths associated with kratom are most commonly linked to adulterated products, or using kratom concurrently with opioids, benzodiazepines, illegal drugs, alcohol, or cough medications.

Side effects from kratom can range from uncomfortable to severe. The Mayo Clinic reports side effects may include chills, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, liver damage, delusions, dangerously low respirations, seizures, coma, or death. According to the Mayo Clinic, “It’s not known exactly what level of kratom is toxic in people, but as with pain medications and recreational drugs, it is possible to overdose on kratom.” Both dependence and addiction have been reported by some kratom users.

Legality of kratom in Missouri

Presently, kratom is legal to buy and use in Missouri, although just over the border, Alton and Jerseyville have banned it. Earlier this year, St. Charles, St. Louis, and Jefferson counties considered regulating or banning kratom in their jurisdictions. To date, only St. Charles County has imposed any restrictions.

  • On August 27th Fox 2Now reported the County Council for St. Charles County voted to regulate kratom. They approved the herb to be sold to relieve pain and boost energy, but have imposed stricter labeling requirements. They have also limited legal purchase of kratom to those age 18 and older.
  • In September, St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann allowed the bill to pass, without his signature. Ehlmann cautioned, “This is not an endorsement. This is not a guarantee that this is totally healthy.” The State of Missouri health department remains in agreement with FDA warnings cautioning the public about the use of kratom.
  • Fox 2Now quoted Dr. Mary Case, Chief Medical Examiner for St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin, and Jefferson counties as stating, “Kratom is an opioid type drug…it has the same effect on opioid receptors. It will depress respiration.” According to Dr. Case, in just over a year, there were 9 deaths in St. Charles linked to kratom use. Eight of the decedents also had another drug substance in their bodies.
  • In November 2017, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. issued a public health advisory against the use of kratom until more is known about its potential risks and effectiveness.

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