Bizon bill would restrict use of dangerous kratom

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Bizon, M.D. introduced a bill on Tuesday that would regulate the use of the plant kratom in Michigan.

Senate Bill 433 would make kratom a Schedule 2 controlled substance, which means it could be obtained only through a prescription.

“The currently unregulated drug kratom is both dangerous and addictive,” said Bizon, R-Battle Creek, the only physician in the state Senate. “There has been an alarming increase recently in the number of deaths from this relatively unknown drug. We must take measures to help prevent such tragedies and the continued abuse of this drug.”

Kratom is a tropical tree found in southeast Asia that users consume in a capsule or powder form. It affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine, and some opioid users claim it has helped them curb their addiction.

But the drug, which currently is legal for sale to minors, appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse and dependence. In addition, kratom can cause serious interactions when taken with prescription drugs. Its reported side effects include seizures, hallucinations and symptoms of psychosis.

There have been five deaths from kratom use in Kent County since 2018. In May 2019, Troy police issued a warning about the substance, and on May 8, a Royal Oak man was sentenced to two years in prison for illegally smuggling the substance and selling it unlawfully.

Bizon said six states, including Indiana and Wisconsin, have banned kratom. Four other states now regulate the drug.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings about kratom,” Bizon said. “Kratom users trying to get off of opioids should be using this substance under the guidance of a health care professional.”

SB 433 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety for further consideration.