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ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann wants to ban the sale of kratom, an herb that causes effects similar to opioids and stimulants, and he plans to begin that process next week.

“Kratom is an opioid type drug,” said Dr. Mary Case, Chief Medical Examiner for St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin, and Jefferson counties. “It’s very mild but it has the same effect on opioid receptors. It will depress respiration.”

Dr. Case says kratom is unregulated. Nine people have died in just over a year in St. Charles, according to Case. However, eight of those people had some other drug substance in their body as well.

“We’ve had one individual in St. Charles County that died with strictly kratom in the system,” Case said. “We’ve two in St. Louis County in the same period of time that died with only kratom.”

But Jeffrey Altmann, the founder of Viceroy Government Relations, says pure kratom has been used in the united states for decades and is safe.

“The National Institute on Drug Abuse has confirmed that the FDA claimed deaths they attribute to kratom are actually caused by adulterated kratom with fentanyl, heroin, and morphine,” he said. “That was also confirmed by the recent report by the Center for Disease Control.”

Altmann says that Missouri House Bill 1115, which passed the General Laws Committee on Tuesday by 10-2 vote, goes to the floor and would ban adulterated kratom, require clear labels, and only be sold to adults.

But Ehlmann says he’s ready to act now.

“Banning is an option, some sort of regulation is an option, we will look at all options,” he says.