Kentucky Family Warns Against Kratom Use After Easter Tragedy Claims Loved One

Kentucky Family Warns Against Kratom Use After Easter Tragedy Claims Loved One

Frankfort, Kentucky —
The sudden death of a loved one on Easter morning in Kentucky has caused the family to warn others about the risks of the drug kratom.

When rescuers rushed her out of her Caldwell County home and put her on a stretcher, Kathy Jo Sample knew her sister was gone.

She told WLKY through tears, “When I saw my sister, my baby sister… she was dead.”

Debra Jo Lipe-Groves, her younger sister, died on March 31, Easter Sunday, of what was likely a heart attack. She was only 43 years old, but things had been getting worse for weeks.

Sample said that her sister had a drug problem all through her life. Kratom was the last drug she used a lot. The Drug Enforcement Administration says the drug can be addictive, but it can be used to treat pain or nervousness.

A “drug and chemical of concern” by the DEA, it’s allowed in Kentucky but illegal in Indiana.

Sample saw how Debra Jo lost a lot of weight quickly and became very weak. The week before she died, she needed a blood transfusion.

“She just looked so weak, she looked like a little 80-year-old woman,” she added.

While Debra Jo was being buried on April 4, Gov. Andy Beshear signed a bill into law that limits the sale of kratom in Kentucky. House Bill 293 says that kratom can’t be sold to people younger than 21. It also says that all kratom goods must have clear labels with information on how to use them safely and effectively.

The bill’s main supporter is Republican state Rep. Kim Moser.

“If it’s contributing to harm and certainly death, it’s time that we take a stance on this,” said Moser.

Sample is glad the state is moving in, but he wants even stricter rules so that other people don’t have to go through the pain of losing a loved one to kratom.

“I’m glad that they are actually paying attention to it, but we’ve gotta get it off the shelves,” he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not officially have any rules about kratom. Moser said she thinks that the fact that some states have put limits on the drug will lead to changes at the federal level.

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