Kratom users want DEA to reconsider possible ban

Posted at 9:45 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-01 00:17:37-04

DENVER -- Carli Osbourne knows the grip of opioid addiction.

"I've been on pain pills off and on since I was 14. I tried to quit several times on my own," Osbourne said.

She also knows the nine-year pain of trying to quit.

"Your veins feel like ice, your muscles feel like fire and certain parts of your bones will feel like there's a jackhammer on them," Osbourne said.

In February, the mom discovered Kratom, a tree leaf from southeast Asia used to treat depression, pain and drug addiction.  Suddenly, Osbourne found a new way out.

"I feel like I have my life back and I haven't felt like this since before I was 14," Osbourne said.

That could all change.  The Drug Enforcement Administration wants to make it an illegal Schedule I substance, halting its sales across the United States.  The DEA warns it can cause hallucinations, psychosis, even death and cites its high potential for abuse.  The DEA has linked the product to 15 deaths, although advocates say in 14 of those deaths, other drugs were involved.

"Ultimately what's happening is just like Suboxone and Methadone and all those other kinds of medications to help you get off [opioids] -- it's abused as well," said Robert Shermer, a mental health therapist.

Not true, says Jennifer Mahaney, who has been selling Kratom at Headed West in Denver for years.  Mahaney worries about the 500 to 600 customers she says come into her shop looking for the product every day and says the true danger is suddenly pulling a drug from the market that's helping so many addicts.

"These people are fully functioning. They're engaged in their children's life. I can tell you story after story where it has been impactful for them and they're just taking it away," Mahaney said.

The DEA vows to move forward.  Osbourne worries how far the move will drag her back.

"I want to be strong, but if they're going to take the only option I have, I don't know what to do," said Osbourne.


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