Iowans Advocate for Legal Drug On the Verge of Being Banned by DEA

NEWTON, Iowa--It's cheap, it's legal, it's all natural.  Brittany Andersen of Newton, Iowa said it has even kept her alive. "Life saving. I was near suicidal with pain."

Now Kratom, is also on the verge of becoming illegal.  Dale Woolery of the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy said, "In low doses or in small amounts it can have stimulant like effects.  When in larger amounts it can have sedative or opioid like effects."

Kratom, in pill, powder or liquid form is an organic drug made from a tropical tree native to southeast Asia.  Woolery said,  "It's been on the DEA drugs of control list for some time."

Lee Salsberry and Brittany Andersen, of Newton, have been using Kratom for years.  "It's like drinking tea.  It makes you feel good."

Brittany, after a major car accident in 2008. "There are days I wouldn't be able to get out to bed and I started taking this once a day in the morning and I can function through the day like a normal person now."

Lee, to ween off a opioid addiction.  "I used to be an addict and in no way does it have the effects," said Lee.

Kratom remains relatively unknown to the Drug Enforcement Administration.  "When you start talking about opioid like effects and addictive qualities I think the radar goes up," said Woolery.

The DEA originally planned on placing Kratom on the Schedule 1 drugs list in October. A list that includes heroin, ecstasy and marijuana."It supposedly can be addictive, or at least that's the thought and that has a lot to do with the DEA looking into the substance," said Woolery.

Now a delay has been put on the ban for the time being.  Woolery said,  "We are watching closely.  We are as anxious as others to know more about this."

Giving researchers more time to study. "It's unregulated currently so no one is tracking it in any formal sense."

At the very least, giving many Iowans more time to stay pain-free.  Brittany said, "If it wasn't helping and I thought it was dangerous, I wouldn't give it to other people. I've given it to my parents."

The DEA believes there have been at least 15 Kratom related deaths in America between 2014 and 2016.  They are allowing a public comment period  about Kratom through December 1, where letters can be written both for and against the drug, before a decision is made.