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CONTACT 13: Feds stall ban on kratom

Posted at 3:41 PM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 23:00:00-04
A legal high sold in smoke shops was about to be banned, but now -- under pressure -- the feds are backing off. Contact 13 has new information about a coffee-related plant that's causing a national controversy.  
We bought a kratom-based product for about $20 at a local smoke shop right before the Drug Enforcement Administration said it would ban kratom by putting it in the same class as heroin and other illegal street drugs. 
But the DEA is now back-pedaling -- seemingly second-guessing its widely-criticized decision to ban something many say could help curb the nation's opioid abuse epidemic.
Kratom is a plant that grows primarily in southeast Asia. It's sold online, in smoke shops and in supplement stores as a natural alternative to treat pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression.   
The American Kratom Association and more than 50 lawmakers, including Nevada Congressman Joe Heck, said the DEA overstepped its authority when it rushed to ban kratom. But the National Institute on Drug Abuse says kratom works the same way in the brain as opiate medications and can have serious side effects.  
Professionals in our local addiction recovery community said they have treated patients detoxing from kratom. 
Heeding public outcry and the need for further research, the DEA has opened a public comment period. Click here for more information.