`Kratom` drug craze: It's legal, but is it safe? - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

`Kratom` drug craze: It's legal, but is it safe?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A new drug called Kratom is causing concern, but it has gained attention for all the wrong reasons.

Despite the looming concerns from the DEA, the Kratom leaf is legal. In fact, the herb is sold in the city and suburbs--including a Wicker Park smoke shop which is selling it for $25 a pack.

"I ingested it in a cup of tea. I don't really think it had too much of an effect on me," says Kratom user Brian. "I felt really happy and sort of euphoric."

Brian Brissart, 23, says he tried Kratom while visiting New York.

"I remember getting really sweaty and hot yeah but I don't feel like it was a harsh drug or anything like that," Brian says, adding that the effects last around 30 minutes.

The DEA warns the leaves from Kratom trees are widely available on the internet and sold as crushed leaves that can be smoked or steeped for tea and as gel caps.

I'm sure it's probably a problem for teens and it's probably coming up in high schools and suburbs so it's worth being looked at but I don't know if it's worth being put on the DEA's list.

A Wicker Park smoke shop is just one of several stores selling the latest leaf that has the Drug Enforcement Administration on alert. You can see the shiny foil packaging containing Kratom from the sidewalk.

The leaf native to Southeast Asia is banned there but legal here, leaving Dominique Bullock wondering why.

"Seems like the substance should be illegal if you're in the car driving," Wicker Park resident Dominique Bullock says. "I don't know. I guess it's fun for recreational purposes but that doesn't mean it's safe."

The DEA says Kratom can lead to addiction. At low doses users report alertness and energy and at high doses, the drug produces sedative effects.

The DEA says there is no legitimate medical use for Kratom and it's on their watch because they're still conducting research. Kratom could follow the suit of spice and bath salts, which were legal until scientific research reports their dangers.

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