We were asked a question about kratom in Georgia and we wanted to answer it and provide some background and context to the raging debate surrounding kratom.
Georgia residents, as long as they are over 18 years of age, can purchase, possess, and use kratom. See O.C.G.A. § 16-13-121. And importantly, Kratom cannot be sold to anyone under 18, doing so would be a violation of Georgia law.
As Georgia criminal lawyers, we wanted to discuss everything related to kratom.
Kratom has gotten a lot of press recently and as Georgia criminal law attorneys we wanted to do a blog post discussing it.
Kratom, scientifically known as mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree indigenous to Southeast Asia, primarily in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. Its leaves contain active compounds, most notably mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing a range of effects.
Traditionally, in its native regions, kratom has been used for various purposes, including:
- Pain Relief: It has been used as a natural pain reliever, with some people using it for chronic pain conditions.
- Energy and Stimulation: In smaller doses, kratom can have stimulating effects, leading to increased energy and alertness.
- Mood Enhancement: Some users report mood enhancement and increased sociability.
- Opioid Withdrawal Aid: It has been used by some as a way to manage withdrawal symptoms from opioid addiction.
Kratom is available in various forms such as leaves, powder, capsules, or extracts. Users often brew it into a tea, chew the leaves, or consume it in other forms.
However, there are ongoing debates and concerns about kratom:
- Regulatory Status: In the United States, kratom is not (yet) federally scheduled, but its legal status varies among states and local jurisdictions. Some have banned or restricted its sale and use due to safety concerns. Georgia at one time banned kratom, but then legalized it.
- Safety Concerns: The FDA has not approved kratom for any medical use. Health risks associated with kratom include potential addiction, dependence, and adverse effects like nausea, vomiting, constipation, and increased heart rate.
- Quality and Purity: Due to its unregulated nature, concerns about the purity and quality of kratom products have been raised. Contamination and varying potency are some of the issues associated with unregulated kratom products. You really don’t know the dosage you are ingesting.
- Lack of Research: There's a dearth of comprehensive, scientifically rigorous studies on kratom. More research is needed to better understand its effects, potential benefits, and risks. The National Institute on Drug Abuse support research toward the better understanding of kratom.
While some advocate for its potential therapeutic benefits, others emphasize the need for regulation and further research to ensure its safety and proper use.
As a Georgia criminal defense attorney, understanding the legal landscape and ongoing discussions about kratom can be crucial, especially regarding its regulation and the balance between access and safety for consumers, as well as the criminal laws that impact people regarding kratom.
Kratom and Addiction
Kratom's potential for addiction and dependency is a subject of significant debate and concern. While some proponents suggest its use as an alternative to opioids for managing pain and aiding in opioid withdrawal, others highlight the addictive potential and associated risks.
Addiction to kratom is plausible due to its active compounds, particularly mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which interact with opioid receptors in the brain. Regular use, especially in high doses, can lead to tolerance, dependence, and potentially addiction.
Users might develop a tolerance, requiring larger doses to achieve the same effects, which can further lead to dependency. Abrupt cessation after prolonged and heavy use may result in withdrawal symptoms, which can include:
- Muscle aches
- Emotional changes
- Runny nose
- Jerky movements
However, the severity of withdrawal symptoms tends to be milder compared to traditional opioids.
The addictive potential of kratom, while acknowledged, is not fully understood due to the lack of comprehensive research. The context and individual differences play a role in how people respond to and use kratom. Additionally, the purity and dosage of the product can significantly impact its addictive potential.
As an Georgia drug lawyers, recognizing the nuances in the discussion about kratom addiction is crucial, especially in legal contexts where the regulatory landscape might need to address both the potential benefits and the associated risks to public health and safety.
Comparison of Kratom to Other Drugs
Comparing kratom to other drugs involves understanding their effects, risks, and legal statuses. Here’s a general comparison:
- Opioids: Kratom interacts with opioid receptors in the brain similarly to traditional opioids, but its effects are generally less potent. Opioids, like heroin or prescription painkillers, are highly potent and can lead to severe addiction and overdose. Kratom's potential for addiction and overdose is still under study, but it's often seen as less potent and associated with milder withdrawal symptoms.
- Cannabis: While kratom and cannabis are different in their mechanisms and effects, both have been considered for medicinal purposes. Cannabis is known for its psychoactive effects due to THC, while kratom's active compounds interact with opioid receptors. Both have sparked debates on their safety, regulation, and potential benefits.
- Stimulants (e.g., Cocaine, Amphetamines): Kratom can have stimulant-like effects in lower doses, providing increased energy and alertness. However, the nature of its stimulating properties is different from traditional stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines, which have more direct impacts on the central nervous system and are associated with a higher risk of addiction and severe health complications.
- Benzodiazepines: Drugs like Xanax or Valium are used to treat anxiety and have a calming effect on the central nervous system. Kratom's sedative effects at higher doses might somewhat resemble these drugs, although their mechanisms and risks differ significantly.
Each drug has its own set of effects, risks, and legal status. Kratom, unlike many traditional drugs, remains legal in some areas but faces ongoing scrutiny due to concerns about its safety and regulation. Understanding these differences is crucial, especially from a legal standpoint, in determining their potential impact and appropriate regulation.
Ways to Use Kratom
Kratom is used in various ways, but it's important to note that its consumption and legality can vary by location. Here are common methods of using kratom:
- Chewing Leaves: In areas where the plant grows, people traditionally chew the leaves to benefit from their stimulating and pain-relieving properties.
- Brewing Tea: This is a common method. The leaves can be steeped in hot water to make a tea. The potency can vary depending on the amount and the duration of steeping.
- Consuming Capsules: Some individuals prefer capsules, which contain powdered kratom. It's a convenient way to ingest it and allows for better control of dosage.
- Toss and Wash: This method involves putting a dose of powdered kratom in the mouth, followed by a drink to wash it down. It's quick but can be challenging for some due to the taste.
- Mixing with Food or Beverages: Mixing kratom powder with yogurt, smoothies, or other food can help mask the taste. It's a method used by those who dislike the flavor.
- Topical Application: Some use kratom leaves or extracts in balms or lotions for local relief, although this method is less common.
Remember, the effects of kratom can vary based on the strain, dosage, and individual body chemistry. Also, it's crucial to use it responsibly and be aware of any legal regulations in your area. Always start with a lower dose to understand your body's reaction before increasing the amount.
Celebrities that use kratom
Some famous people use kratom. Some celebs are vocal advocates of its use and claim it has helped them. Here are some notable advocates of kratom:
Jessamyn Laurel Duke
Known throughout the MMA fighting world and sponsored by a kratom brand, she also takes pride in being a serious “gamer.”
A former bodyguard who suffered a stroke due to steroid use, Wiese went on to professional wrestling renown.
Bell boasts many talents: writer, powerlifter, and filmmaker, among others.
Short in physical stature and a child of divorce, Rogan is all over the place these days as a UFC commentator, podcaster, and television personality; he’s a huge kratom fan.
Baszler sees herself as a fighter and her career choice as a professional wrestler, kickboxer, and former mixed martial artist demonstrates that.
With a keen interest in psychoactive drugs, the well-credentialed Hamilton Morris has gained recognition as a documentarian and chemist.
Mark “Smelly” Bell, who is Chris Bell’s younger brother, used his powerlifting prowess to become an entrepreneur of means.
The Kratom “High” or “Buzz”
The effects of kratom can vary significantly based on dosage, individual tolerance, and the specific strain. At lower doses, kratom is often reported to provide a mild stimulant effect. Users might experience increased alertness, sociability, and sometimes a sense of euphoria. This mild stimulation is often referred to as the "kratom buzz." It might also offer a feeling of increased focus and energy, similar to drinking a cup of coffee.
At higher doses, the effects can lean more towards sedation and relaxation. Users might feel a sense of calmness and even pain relief. Some report a feeling of contentment or even mild euphoria, but these effects can vary widely among individuals.
It's important to note that while some users experience positive effects, others might encounter adverse reactions, including nausea, dizziness, or a "wobbly" feeling. Additionally, taking high doses of kratom or using it frequently can lead to tolerance, dependency, and potential withdrawal symptoms.
The "high" from kratom, if one can call it that, is subjective and can differ from person to person. It's crucial to approach kratom use with caution, starting with a low dose and being aware of one's body's response to it.
A word of caution: Always consider the potential risks and legality of kratom in your area before use.
When you need a Georgia criminal law attorney for anything related to kratom or drugs, call us for a free case evaluation!