"It's very very addictive. And, therefore long-term kids start using it... they like the feeling and then they move onto harder stuff later on." - Sandor Cheka III
Reported by: Phillip Ohnemus
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) - In 2010, Alabama passed legislation to ban other "legal highs" including Salvia, Spice, and K-2.
The law was written to outlaw any substance that mimics the effects of illicit drugs.
But that law may not be as far reaching as legislators wanted.
Recently they had to make a change to include bath salts, and now an ingredient in the natural pain reliever Vicozen may be next.
The drink is being abused by teens for one of the listed ingredients on the label, Kratom.
Kratom is not listed as a banned substance by the Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Agency, but the "natural herb" is listed on its page for drugs and chemicals of concern.
Addiction Coalition Executive Director Sandor Cheka III says, "The issue with Kratom is it's a heroin substitute."
Cheka describes the substance as a gateway drug. "It's very very addictive. And, therefore long-term kids start using it... they like the feeling and then they move onto harder stuff later on."
But there is an online campaign to defend Kratom. One man on youtube who is serving as the face of the Kratom Association describes Kratom as "a wonderful natural incredible herb that ought to be respected and adored everywhere."
The person in the video is not identified. He argues "Kratom" is revered in the far East for its medicinal effects.
But the DEA points out there is no legitimate medicinal use for Kratom in the United States.
You can read the DEA fact sheet here.
To see what the Kratom Association is saying about efforts to ban the herb click here.