Kratom sales continue despite FDA report on dangers

The DEA tried to make kratom a schedule 1 controlled substance last year

Jars of kratom at Head East in Northeast Portland, September 8, 2016 (KOIN)
Jars of kratom at Head East in Northeast Portland, September 8, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Sales of Kratom are going strong in Portland despite a recent statement from the Federal Drug Administration saying the substance has been associated with more than 30 deaths.

The substance, made from ground leaves of a tree found in Southeast Asia, is used for its opioid-like effects. The FDA said people also use it to help wean themselves off opioids.

On Nov. 14, the FDA issued a public health advisory on kratom, saying using the unregulated “drug product” comes with risks. It also said calls to U.S. poison control centers regarding kratom have increased 10 times from 2010 to 2015 and 36 deaths have been associated with the use of products containing kratom.

Those who sell Kratom feel the public health advisory is another step by the government to ban kratom.

Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration wanted make kratom a schedule 1 controlled substance, like LSD, ecstasy and heroin. After that announcement in August 2016, customers rushed to buy kratom. The DEA later decided to gather more public opinion before banning it.

“We were really thankful it was able to stay on the shelves for those who need it,” Summer Coate at Head East said.

At Woodstock Smoke shop, owner Doranna Polk sells 30-60 bags of kratom of per week in bulk and in capsules. Her customers tell her they use it for a number of physical ailments along with depression and anxiety.

“I think it would be sad if it went away,” Polk said. “Kratom is a great seller for me so it would significantly hurt the business.”