Plant-based drug Kratom gets more time on store shelves

Published: Oct. 11, 2016 at 8:18 AM MST|Updated: Oct. 11, 2016 at 8:30 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A longtime home remedy will get some more time on store shelves.

Tucson News Now first reported in September that the herb "Kratom" was at risk of being banned for being too addictive, reportedly even causing several deaths.

But the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has some more work to do before the drug is pulled.

[READ: Plant-based drug Kratom to be banned by end of September]

Tucson Kratom is one of the many businesses at risk of closing if this ban goes through.

Owner Anna Caffarel said it's a huge relief not only for her business, but for the people who use Kratom to manage their pain.

The DEA was originally supposed to ban the drug as early as the end of September, but widespread criticism from businesses, customers and even lawmakers put a halt to their plans.

Kratom is at risk of being classified as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it would be illegal to sell it.

It has been recommended for years as a way to treat pain or increase energy.

Many use it as a way to deal with opioid addiction.

But it is also being blamed for more than a dozen deaths around the country.

In southern Arizona, eight people have wound up in the hospital because of it.

Some reported stomach problems, others hallucinations.

Director of the Arizona Drug & Information Center Keith Boesen said they're not really seeing a huge problem with Kratom here just yet.

"There is an abuse potential to it, and it does work similar to other medicines like heroin or oxycodone or various pain medicines in that same family," he said.

The DEA will have to prove that there is enough evidence against Kratom, and that banning it would benefit the entire country.

Boesen said one thing that people can be certain of is that if Kratom is banned, it won't be long before another potentially more dangerous drug takes its place.

"Staying on top of that is going to be a big challenge for the DEA moving forward," he said. "Some of these compounds are incredible powerful and incredibly potent, and incredibly small doses can lead to death and that's something that we're not quite seeing with Kratom."

Some states like Arkansas and Indiana have banned the sale of Kratom.

As of right now, it's still legal to buy Kratom in Arizona.

Meanwhile, businesses who sell Kratom are celebrating their extra time.

Tucson Kratom is even giving away samples of the herb.

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