The world of designer drugs is ever-evolving and unfortunately, law enforcement officials must continuously be on the lookout for the next trend. Many parents are now hearing about Kratom, a new legal high that is not currently regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It is widely available in convenience stores and smoke shops, and and local law enforcement and public health officials are on the alert.
According to the DEA, the Kratom leaf comes from a tree in Thailand. It can be smoked, steeped in tea or crushed and ingested in gel caps. At low doses users report alertness and energy and at high doses, the drug produces sedative effects. It is currently banned in several countries in Southeast Asia, but is legal in the United States.
This legality may give many teens the false impression that Kratom is safe. It is marketed as "all natural," but can induce the same effects as banned substances.
"It's always sold as if it's safe," said Selby Smith, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the DEA's Seattle office, to local NBC affiliate KING. "But in all actuality it's never been tested. It's never been through Food and Drug Administration (FDA) trials and we don't know what it does to the human body."
The agency is also investigating a growing number of emergency room visits reportedly caused by the drug. Users have the described hallucination and delusion as the most common symptoms.
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