PENDLETON — Pendleton police arrested a man on Monday, Jan. 18, who was suffering from an “apparent psychosis” most likely brought on by the substance kratom after he caused a public disturbance and leapt through a closed second-story window.
At around 7:30 p.m., Pendleton police received multiple reports from residents of a public disturbance on the 700 block of Southwest First Street, according to a press release from the police department. Upon arriving, police found Daniel P. Kemp, 37, who the department reported was agitated, screaming, removing his clothing, going into neighboring residences, destroying property and running in and out of his home.
Officers attempted to deescalate the situation, the press release stated, but Kemp fled inside a building, ran to the second story, jumped through a closed window and landed on the ground.
Officers went outside and found Kemp covered in blood. Paramedics already had been requested to the scene because of Kemp’s condition.
Kemp proceeded to engage law enforcement in a “physical confrontation,” according to the press release, and it took four officers to restrain him and secure him to a medical gurney to treat his injuries. Officers also tased Kemp, but he was not affected.
Officers were exposed to blood-borne pathogens but were not injured, the press release said.
Upon further investigation, police said they believe that Kemp’s psychosis most likely was caused by the herbal drug kratom.
Kratom, which is part of the coffee family, is derived from the leaves of a tree native to Southeast Asia. It is legal and, for the most part, unregulated and untracked in Oregon and nationally.
When kratom is introduced into the body in large amounts, it can have a sedative effect, similar to that of an opiate. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that people who use kratom run the risk of dependency and, in some cases, addiction.
Some people, however, use the drug in small amounts as a remedy for chronic pain, depression and anxiety and as a curb for opioid addiction — though it is not medically prescribed. Some veterans have also said it helps control symptoms of post-traumatic stress, according to the New York Times.
Information and data on the positive and negative effects of kratom are limited, and because of this, health officials have voiced concerns it is largely unregulated.
Other reported kratom side effects include seizures and hallucinations. Past government reviews have linked kratom to more than 100 overdose deaths.
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported kratom was the cause of 91 of 27,000 overdose deaths the agency examined during an 18-month period.
The substance is banned in six states — Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin — and also in the District of Columbia.
“Individuals under the influence of kratom can be unpredictable and dangerous, as witnessed by this incident,” the press release stated. “Several businesses in the Pendleton area currently sell kratom.”
Kratom is found most commonly in smoke shops, dispensaries and even in some gas stations.
Kemp was taken to St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton and after evaluation was lodged in the Umatilla County Jail on a charge of second-degree disorderly conduct. More charges are pending, the press release said.