MONTGOMERY — Among the flurry of bills passing the Alabama Legislature late Wednesday night was one to add kratom to the state’s list of Schedule I controlled substances.
Senate Bill 266 to outlaw the substance was sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur. It was drafted with the help of the Alabama District Attorneys Association.
Kratom, which can be smoked, ingested or steeped in tea, is a tropical plant related to coffee and is legal in most states, except Wisconsin, Vermont, Tennessee and Indiana. According to local law enforcement, it’s similar to marijuana and often used to skirt Alabama’s current laws that ban controlled substances.
Opponents of the legislation said kratom helps with pain relief, isn’t dangerous and should not be criminalized.
Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin was a proponent of Orr’s bill, which now goes to the governor for his signature.
“Because it’s not illegal, you can sell it to a 12-year-old in a convenience store,” Franklin said in February. “They are selling this stuff to kids, and they’re selling it as if it’s synthetic marijuana.
"Kids think it must be OK for them to use because it’s legal. Actually, it’s way worse than real marijuana. It has absolutely dangerous characteristics.”