What is kratom, and why are Louisiana local officials banning it?

Kratom has become a cause for concern in Louisiana, with two parishes banning it and two others considering a ban for fear of more drug addiction.

Here’s what kratom is and why it alarms some: 

What is kratom? 

Kratom is a plant native to southeast Asia and is colloquially known as thang, kakuam, thom, ketum and biak, according to a 2020 fact sheet produced by the U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration. 

What does it do? 

Kratom leaves contain both mitragynine and 7-hydroxymytragynine, chemicals that can cause psychotic activity, according to the fact sheet. 

Some users say it relieves pain. Consuming the leaves can lead to stimulant effects in lower doses and sedative effects in higher doses, as well as to a range of psychotic symptoms. It also can make a user dependent on the plant, the drug fact sheet said.

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