(WLOX) - Users say kratom is an opioid that acts as a pain reliever and replacement to other narcotics. However, the Drug Enforcement Agency wants to outlaw the natural substance that many people depend on every day.
Moss Point resident Ethan Roberts purchases kratom at Double Shoppe One Stop in Ocean Springs. He says the substance has helped him shake an opiate addiction that sent him to rehab multiple times.
"Sometimes I have bad cravings and want to get high, when I found kratom it made those feelings go away, for me it doesn't make me feel like nodding out, going to sleep. It makes me a functioning member of society," said Roberts.
Shop owners say kratom can be taken in pill, tea, or extract form. Owner of Double Shoppe One Stop, David Lebron, says he's met dozens of people who say kratom has saved their lives.
Lebron noted, "Every day I see people in the store, some are buying as much as they afford, others are asking what alternative will there be for me once this goes out."
The owner only recently learned that the classification of kratom was scheduled to change.
"We received informal notice DEA planning to place botanical called kratom on schedule one, meaning it would be illegal," Lebron said.
After seeing a spike in opioid related deaths in Alabama when kratom became illegal there, Lebron fears for what will happen to kratom users if it becomes illegal in the state.
But, the DEA says although they've received pleas from kratom users, it's a matter of time before it becomes illegal in Mississippi due to their findings that it causes significantly harmful risks to public health.
The DEA says it has not yet set a date as to when they will make kratom illegal in Mississippi.