Remember kratom? NIDA describes it as an “…herbal substance that can produce opioid- and stimulant-like effects.” So far it’s still widely available, often promoted as a safe way to relieve craving and the symptoms of drug withdrawal. We wrote about it as recently as last May:

How Kratom Became Widespread

Now, in the state where it first became popular among residents of recovery homes, comes this disturbing report:

Family of US woman who died from ingesting kratom wins $11m damages

In a nutshell:  A judge in West Palm Beach ordered a kratom maker to pay damages to the woman’s children.

The company didn’t bother to put on a defense.

The article notes that the DEA tried to restrict kratom back in 2016 but the public outcry led them to rescind those restrictions.

That often happens when a drug has been allowed to gain a foothold among the public before government attempts to limit its use. They run into a whole bunch of folks who’ve already become dependent on it.

The victim had apparently used the drug for a number of years, thinking it entirely safe. Then, in the middle of 2021, she died. The cause: Per the autopsy, acute intoxication resulting from high concentration of kratom’s main ingredient, mitragynine. The result was respiratory failure.

Sounds very much like a fatal opioid overdose. Maybe kratom has more in common with opioids than we knew.

The article mentions another case, in the state of Washington, around an issue of wrongful death, where a jury found against a different kratom manufacturer. I wondered if that company offered a defense.

Or maybe there isn’t one.

As for whether the DEA gets back into the fray around regulating kratom, we’ll just have to wait and see.