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posted: 6/8/2018 5:30 AM

Naperville to 'proceed cautiously' on herbal remedy kratom

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A shop that wants to sell cannabidiol products and an herbal substance called kratom from a downtown Naperville strip mall likely will face an "uphill battle," especially when it comes to potential kratom sales, city leaders say.

David Palatnik of CBD Kratom, a chain with stores in Chicago, Dallas and St. Louis, pitched the Naperville liquor commission Thursday, seeking the ability to sell his company's two classes of products in the River Square shopping center at Chicago Avenue and Washington Street.

Commissioners said they plan to review a potential update to a city ordinance that could allow Palatnik's shop to sell cannabidiol products, or CBD, which are produced from hemp and do not contain THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. The ordinance review is expected to continue in July.

But on kratom, some liquor commissioners rejected Palatnik's idea, saying they would not like to see the substance sold in town.

Kratom comes from a tree native to Southeast Asia, which produces leaves that can be steeped into teas or blended into smoothies, Palatnik said. It also can be taken as a pill or extract, or eaten in food.

Kratom interacts with opioid receptors in the brain to decrease pain and produce pleasure, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. If it's taken in small quantities, kratom is found to produce energy, but when taken in large quantities, it causes sedation. Kratom also can cause dependence, and it can have psychoactive, or mind-altering, effects.

The brain-altering potential made liquor commissioner Chuck Maher uncomfortable with local kratom sales in the midst of the opioid crisis.

"(With) all the problems that we've had in Naperville, I'd really say that I would not support this at all, in any stretch of the imagination," Maher said.

Others on the commission indicated a degree of openness, although they requested medical research on the benefits and side effects of kratom, which is legal for purchase by people 18 and older in Illinois, but has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, in a statement this February, the FDA advised consumers to avoid kratom and products containing it because of a multistate Salmonella outbreak.

"I want to not jump to judgment. I think there's a stigma," said liquor Commissioner Mitch Stauffer, who described himself as "receptive" to the idea of kratom sales. "You've got a little bit of an uphill battle to convince us because we will proceed cautiously."

Palatnik said he was OK with that and still would work toward opening the business, even if he could only sell his CBD line of products.

But he agreed with Stauffer about the perception of kratom, which he said could stem from the sources where users find it now.

"A lot of times the negative (image) comes to kratom because of the places it gets sold. Head shops sell kratom," Palatnik said. "You don't know where it's coming from. The labeling is not clear."

Palatnik, of St. Louis, has operated CBD Kratom shops for three years and says the majority of sales come from middle-aged customers seeking CBD for relaxation and pain relief. Some forms of CBD are available at drugstores such as Walgreens, which is why Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Steve Chirico said the commission plans to review city ordinances, likely looking to ensure those sales are permitted.

But procedurally, the question of whether Palatnik's future shop can sell kratom will be handled separately.

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