Kratom controversy rages over benefits, dangers

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The debate over the controversial herbal supplement Kratom is heating up. Some want it outlawed. Others fear that would be a disaster.

“They heard Kratom couldn’t hurt you. Kratom can, in fact, kill you,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Bondi is waiting for guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration before going forward to ban the supplement across the state.

“Hopefully that it will be illegal very soon. But people, just stay away from it. You’ve got to stay away from these synthetic drugs. They can hurt you. They can, not only hurt you, they can kill you,” she said.

When it comes to Kratom, Purple Haze store owner Leo Calzadilla would like people to take a chill pill. He believes the supplement can help those addicted to powerful painkillers.

“Kratom is an herbal supplement and the nice thing about that is, is that it is natural. Obviously, it’s not pharmaceutical. But it does take the edge when they’re trying to get off the opioids,” said Calzadilla.

The supplement is already banned in five states and the DEA has considered putting it in the same class as heroin.

“People have no idea how to measure it. They have no idea what they’re ingesting” said John McDonald, a pharmacist.

But Calzadilla thinks these measures are all about the profits and prescription pill makers running scared.

“It does help with the pain. But it also takes the jitters that they’re gonna be getting when they have the withdrawals,” he said.

Calzadilla claims it’s hard to overdose Kratom. He said people come by his store and thank him for helping them kick opioids.

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