By English Wikipedia user Ingenium, CC BY-SA 3.0
On July 1, Bernadette Albanese, M.D., M.P.H, medical epidemiologist at Tri-County (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas) Health, told the GV City Council that Tri-County “strongly recommends that the City of Greenwood Village ban any sales of kratom in its jurisdiction.” She explained that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “has banned the importation of kratom for human consumption as a drug or dietary ingredient,” and “does not consider kratom safe to consume because of the lack of oversight of kratom’s production overseas and adverse health effects.” That does not prohibit its import to this country.
According to the National Institute of Health, kratom is traditionally used in its native southeast Asia as a pain killer, with effects similar to that of opium. In western countries, the NIH says, it is sometimes used to “treat or manage opioid withdrawal symptoms.”
GV City Attorney Tonya Haas-Davidson informed the city council that kratom was presently being sold in the city. In June, Castle Rock banned the sale of kratom to minors. In 2017, Denver passed a law requiring that kratom be labeled as not being for human consumption but didn’t prohibit its sale or possession.
The GV city council voted to ban the sale of kratom, but not before one council member, Jerry Presley, seriously questioned the action, saying “I don’t think the regulation of drugs is within our jurisdiction.”
Presley proposed three alternatives to prohibiting the sale of kratom in GV: 1) allowing it to be sold in certain zone districts, such as the light industrial zone; 2) allowing it to be sold by a licensed pharmacist; 3) instituting a 12-month moratorium on sales.
Council Member Tom Dougherty, an attorney, responded, saying that, one, limiting the sale of kratom to certain zone districts amounts to treating it as a land use issue, which it is not; and, two, there is only one light industrial zone in GV and “there is presently little or no opportunity for such sales in that zone”, thus GV would be “trying to create a situation that can’t be satisfied (and) that’s not the proper way that government should solve problems.”
Regarding pharmacists dispensing kratom, Dougherty said that would also be “setting up a scenario that could never be satisfied,” because King Soopers would not sell kratom at its pharmacy. Addressing Presley’s third idea, Dougherty said that a moratorium is a method that governments use to avoid solving problems and “I think we have sufficient information to make a decision one way or the other on this right now.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment describes kratom as “a tropical tree that is native to Southeast Asia (primarily Malaysia and Thailand).” The product that is produced as kratom is made from its leaves. The state’s website says that it is legal to possess it in Colorado, but very strongly questions its safety, listing multiple risks associated with its use, including death.
The FDA website warns consumers not to use kratom while it “evaluates the available safety information” about its effects.” It also “encourages more research to better understand kratom’s safety profile.”
When the roll was called on the proposal, Presley acceded to the position of his fellow council members. The vote to ban it was unanimous. The entire text of the law prohibiting the sale of kratom in GV can be found on page 22 of the July 4 issue of The Villager.
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