Controversial pain-relieving drug sold in Birmingham gas station

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — An herbal substance called Kratom is making its way into the Birmingham area. The drug is not approved by the FDA for human consumption, but our CBS 42 Investigative Team was able to purchase capsules from a Birmingham gas station for less than twenty dollars.

Kratom has not been thoroughly studied; however, an article in the Journal of Medical Toxicology reports the drug has cocaine-like effects at lower doses and then pain-relieving effects at higher doses. The article links Kratom with illegal marijuana substitutes like “bath salts” and “spice.”

Users typically smoke it or dissolve the powder into tea and drink it. The drug is commonly used with other drugs to enhance the pain-relieving effect.

The Birmingham store clerk gave our team a sample package of Kratom, labeled “Magic City Kratom.” no other text appears on the package.

Lt. J.M. Davis with the Jefferson County Narcotics Team said he has not come across Kratom specifically, but that does not necessarily mean that it is safe.

“Each time the legislature adds prohibited substances to the list, the manufacturers of these products will change up the chemical make-up,” L.T. Davis said. “It makes it challenging to prosecute.”

Kratom is beginning to show up in emergency rooms across the country, according to several out-of-state media outlets. Locally, emergency room doctors at UAB said they are not seeing patients suffering from the effects of Kratom.

Lt. Davis said parents in Birmingham should be on the lookout for what their children may bring home. He also said businesses selling an unlabeled substance should stop.

“When a business introduces a product into the commerce stream,” L.T. Davis said, “They’re responsible for that action and they could find themselves being prosecuted.”

The federal drug enforcement task force calls Kratom a drug of concern. So far, only one state has banned Kratom. In Alabama, it is legal to sell the drug.

2014 WIAT-TV CBS42

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