CLEARWATER, Fla. — The City of Clearwater is the latest government agency to consider banning the popular drug Kratom.
- City leaders hear from parents who have concerns about Kratom
- Doctor says it has benefits but shouldn't be overused
- More Health headlines
- More Pinellas County headlines
Parents spoke up at a council meeting this month and shared horror stories about the drug as it relates to their children.
A Bay area doctor, however, says the drug has a lot of benefits and should be researched before an all-out ban in the city.
City Council members heard in the meeting from the parents of a teen who used the drug. Mary Tabar says the popular drug was marketed to her daughter when she was just 15 years old.
"We've spent thousands of dollars on neurologists, psychologists, trying to see if we can help her brain," Tabar said.
“They're targeting children. As a matter of fact the place she went to was dressed up as like an Alice in Wonderland, and they would go in and play games," she said. "So it really is a child target thing."
Her husband echoed those concerns to council members in that same meeting.
"All these people that are whacking out recently, it makes me wonder how many of these people are drinking Kratom," he said. "Nobody has tests for it hardly unless you have experience and people come forward like we are."
Dr. Deepa Verma has done research on Kratom.
"If you're using something even if it's natural and you use it too much, you're going to have negative side effects," Verman said.
She says the drug does have positives that city leaders should consider.
"Kratom is again in the coffee family, so as we know coffee is a stimulant and it increases your heart rate and your blood pressure and it can give you more energy and focus," she said. "So this is why Kratom can be beneficial for people who need that little pick me up.
"But it's also a depressant and it binds to the opioid receptors. And you know, when we do too many opioids we suppress our respiration and our breathing. So it's actually a stimulant and a suppressant," Verma said.
The city's legal staff is in the early stages of exploring this to see if the banning is if possible or necessary.
Sarasota is currently the only city in Florida that has banned Kratom.