Controversial drug Kratom to be banned by DEA

DEA to ban herbal supplement Kratom

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Kratom users across the country are fighting to keep the herbal supplement legal. Many swear by it as a natural alternative to pain killers.

But at the end of this month, it will be banned by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

It's not something Cody Klewin wants to happen. Owner of Herb Stomp on Southeast Belmont Street, Klewin has been selling Kratom for the last five years.

"Every day, in the store, we sell quite a bit, probably 50 kilos a day," he said.

But just last week he learned come Sept. 30, he will no longer be allowed to sell it.

The DEA reclassified Kratom as a Schedule I Substance, which means it will be in the same category as marijuana, heroin and LSD.

Kratom comes from the leaves of a tree native to Southeast Asia. It is often used as a pain-reliever, or an alternative to heroin or other opiates.

A common concern with Kratom users and vendors is that if it is banned, more people will start using addictive opiates.

"Kratom is the alternative to the current opiate epidemic except it's so misunderstood that people are afraid of it," said Josh Orr. 

Orr has used Kratom for seven years for chronic back pain and anxiety.

Kratom is currently legal in most states, but is difficult to regulate.

Dr. Michael Moss, a toxicologist at OHSU's Poison Control Center, says the center has seen an increase in calls having to do with Kratom use.

"Some of the concerns that have come up with the DEA is that it's been associated with some pretty bad adverse effects... some seizures some psychosis, there's been a few deaths related to it across the country," Moss said.

Moss says the supplement has not been studied enough.

A petition is going around to get the White House involved in the issue.


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