LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kratom is a plant from the coffee family. It has been under siege by the Federal Drug Administration for a couple of years now.
FDA officials said kratom hits the same brain receptors as morphine and other opioids. Recently, they ordered Indonesia to stop growing the plant. Kratom supporters believe will be a death sentence for kratom in the United States.
The FDA has continued to push to make kratom a schedule one drug, putting it in the category of heroin and other opioids.
"If you place these alkaloids on schedule one it eliminates future research, and they are actively researching kratom right now," explained American Kratom Association's Mac Haddow. "They've issued two grants in the last six months...one grant in December, and the second two months ago, totaling more than $7 million studying the potential health benefits of kratom. This would stop all of that. That is craziness, when we should be looking for a safe alternative to opioids."
Right now, about seven states have banned kratom but not Kentucky. A federal ban is a sensitive subject for many in the state.
"Mostly because it's been demonized, and in many cases appropriately, by health agencies because of problems that have been experienced with people taking Kratom."
Haddow believes there are some bad apples ruining the bunch. Pure kratom, he said, can be a cure-all for pain and depression. But some vendors add more ingredients.
"They start adding morphine and fentanyl and other kinds of opioids and other dangerous substances to give people a high, which natural kratom does not," Haddow said.
The AKA is fighting back by supporting laws in each state to regulate Kratom and make sure it's in its pure form. It is called the Kratom Consumer Protection Act. Utah, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada have passed the act. Haddow expects more in the coming years. They are up against a federal agency that's definitely up against them.