JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Kratom, an herbal supplement banned in seven states, is becoming more common in North Carolina.
A tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family, Kratom is usually marketed as an alternative to medicine.
Critics describe it as a legal form of heroin, while advocates say it can save lives. It sold legally in the state, including in Jacksonville.
“It does have some properties to it that it is being looked at to be placed on the schedule and become a controlled substance,” said Captain Ashley Weaver with the Jacksonville Police Department. “It’s just not currently there.”
Weaver said it has mind-altering properties.
“It has some psychotropic qualities to it,” said Weaver. “It can cause heavy either sedation or hallucinations. So they mark it as not for human consumption. So it’s clearly something that needs to be evaluated and looked at being placed on the controlled substance act.”
Christopher Hansen, who runs a Jacksonville store that sells Kratom, said it’s not only safe, but making a positive impact in the community.
“One lady, huge quality of life issue, she was stuck in her house because of anxiety,” said Hansen. “And depending on which Kratom she used, it uplifted her mood, she was more energetic, and she got out of her house and now she’s a social butterfly.”
Hansen said he would encourage people to research Kratom before making a decision on its safety.
“The key with anything is I want people to be educated,” said Hansen. “Education is power. And once they understand it better, when they’ve done the research, then they can make a better informed decision.”
Hansen said he feels for the states where it has already been banned and where citizens are turning back to opioids for pain relief.
“I’m sad for the people that are going to end up going back to their old ways,” said Hansen. “Which is back to the Methadone clinics. If they don’t survive that, they’re going to go to the black market and try to find something to result themselves.”
The Jacksonville Police Department said they do not know of a time frame for when or if kratom will become a banned substance in the state.