Potentially dangerous drug, kratom, offered over-the-counter in SWFL


A potentially dangerous drug banned in six states can still be found at some local smoke shops.

The supplement, kratom, is made from a plant native to Southeast Asia, according to CBS News. It is usually sold as a powder or capsule, but could be smoked or sipped in a drink.

Rob Fontano is the owner of Kapuva Kava Bar on Metro Parkway where he offers kratom teas.

“Its been used for thousands of years for thousands of things,” Fontano said.

Kratom, which can be described as both a sedative and stimulant, has gained popularity in the U.S. as a treatment for pain, anxiety and drug dependence.

MORE: Dangerous drug banned in 6 states, on the rise in SWFL

Phillip Holda, the director of nursing at White Sands Treatment Center, doesn’t believe kratom should be banned, but he does think it should be regulated.

Users have opposed efforts to regulate the plant, saying it could be a safer alternative to opioid pain pills, according to CBS News.

“I’ve seen people who are detoxing themselves at home off opiates, in particular who have used kratom to ease the pain of coming off it,” Holda said.

But the Food and Drug Administration said in November that kratom carries similar risks, including addiction and death, and the agency is working to block shipments, according to CBS News.

Kratom is a Schedule 1 drug in Alabama, Wisconsin, Vermont, Tennessee, Indiana and Arkansas, the same classification as heroin and ecstasy.

As of now kratom is legal to cultivate, buy, possess and distribute without a license or prescription in Florida, except for Sarasota county where it is illegal.

“It’s being widely used in all walks of life at this point … doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, pharmacists, teachers … the people that need this plant are finding it,” Fontano said.

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