Natural painkiller or controlled substance? DEA could ban Kratom

Natural painkiller or controlled substance? DEA could ban Kratom
Published: Sep. 17, 2016 at 1:39 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 17, 2016 at 1:42 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's an herbal supplement called Kratom. And not many people knew about it until the federal Drug Enforcement Administration recently announced it would make it illegal at the end of this month.

Kratom is derived from a plan native to Southeast Asia. The leaves are grounded up and often used in pill or powder form.

One local user who wanted to remain anonymous said he takes to relieve several pain from blood clots in his legs.

"Instead of taking a pain pill, I'll take a little bit of Kratom, and it's helped me reduce it quite a bit, and that's the reason why I'm using it," he said.

People also use it to lift their mood or fight fatigue. It's also been said to serve as an alternative for heroin addicts.

The possible DEA ban brought it to people's attention.

"I was reading, it said it's a lot like coffee in some cases," said Honolulu resident Ben Gochenouer. "It's all dependent on the dosage, which is like any medicine."

Gochenouer spoke to us at Smokey's Pipe and Coffee Shop in the university area, which has been selling Kratom for several years. You can find it on the menu in a drink called Buddha Bliss. A small amount of Kratom is mixed with honey. Some hot water is added, and then the drink is topped with cinnamon. It's basically like drinking hot tea, and there's no buzz, just perhaps a feeling of relaxation.

But drinking Buddha Bliss could become a felony next month. The DEA has announced plans to add it to its Schedule 1 list of classified illegal drugs, alongside heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

Regular users who swear by Kratom feel like a remedy is being taken away.

"It's kinda like a violation, like someone's taking something from me, and I'm trying so hard to do things that are natural and healthy for your body," said the anonymous Kratom user.

We asked Gochenouer if he's tried the Buddha Bliss.

"No, not yet," he replied. "But probably before the end of the month, I'll give it a shot."

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