BOISE - A lesser-known drug is still readily available and legal after an unsuccessful attempt to ban the substance last year.
In October of 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency backed off classifying Kratom as a schedule one drug after proponents pushed for more research arguing the drug has medical value.
In the meantime, you can find Kratom at local smoke shops across the Treasure Valley, but officers with the Boise Police Department say there is no place for it in our community.
Kratom advocates argue that the drug can help addicts taper off opioids and heroin, lessening withdrawal symptoms and ultimately reducing the cravings.
Rocky, who didn't want to reveal his last name, says he was a slave to prescription pills for years and his addiction that nearly killed him.
"I was addicted to painkillers for about 17 years, desperate to get off went through rehab several times, it never helped," says Rocky.
No matter how many times Rocky tried to quit, he couldn't shake the cravings and would eventually relapse.
That is until Rocky's friend introduced him to Kratom.
"So I told him what I was struggling with and he said he is going through the same thing, go over to the gas station on yonder and get Kratom it will help with the cravings, and it did, since then it has been about five years and it’s gotten to the point now where I will wake up and even forget to take it," says Rocky.
Rocky says he doesn't feel impaired while on Kratom and the only adverse symptom he has noticed is slight anxiety.
Boise Police Officer Casey Hancuff has noticed the opposite while on patrol.
"The last guy I saw on it was passed out in a parking area off of Curtis, he could barely stand," says Hancuff.
Hancuff says this user admitted to taking the drug just as a means to get high.
And as for the claim that Kratom helps addicts taper off hard drugs, Hancuff says it's hard to believe.
"You're just in essence going from one substance for another and eventually they have to come off this too, if people get addicted to Kratom the withdrawal symptoms are somewhat like narcotic withdrawal symptoms," says Hancuff.
According to the DEA, the substance comes from a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia.
The leaves are usually ground up into a green powder and put into a capsule.
In smaller doses, Kratom can mimic a stimulant.
And in larger doses, it is more like a sedative or opioid.
It's unclear, when and if, the DEA and the FDA will decide if Kratom has any medical value and will continue to be legal.
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