A big announcement from the Drug Enforcement Administration is not sitting well with some people.
The DEA plans to make the herbal drug called kratom illegal at the end of September, classifying it as a Schedule-I substance like heroin and ecstasy.
Staff at Dragon Herbarium in Portland are very upset about the decision, as half of the store’s sales come from kratom. With the drug becoming illegal, the owners said they are going to have to get rid of half their staff.
Kratom is on full display at the store for now, but as of September 30 it will be illegal to buy or possess.
The DEA contends the active materials in the kratom plant are dangerous, even deadly.
At least 15 people have died from kratom-related causes in the last two years, and hundreds of calls have been made to poison control centers.
According to the DEA, kratom comes in many forms, acts like an opiate, and has no currently accepted medical use in the United States.
Kratom advocates disagree, though, saying the herb has a number of benefits. Advocates claim it relieves pain and anxiety, works as an anti-inflammatory and helps people who are addicted to opiods break those addictions.
“I use it to treat my chronic back pain and anxiety and I think it’s an excellent herb,” Dragon Herbarium employee Robin Krahel said.
Employees at the store said they’re not against regulations but wish the public would have a voice in this decision. They also worry there will be more heroin overdoses if kratom isn’t an option.
“We had very concerned customers calling us being anywhere from in tears, confused, fearful of this really helpful herb being taken off the market,” Krahel said.
Staff at the shop are hoping this isn’t the final say when it comes to kratom. They’re encouraging other advocates to sign petitions hoping to overturn the DEA’s decision.
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