Thousands of people claim it has changed their lives, but the federal government says it dangerous. Kratom is an herbal supplement that will be reclassified at the end of the month to a schedule 1 drug.
That will mean it will be as illegal as heroin or meth.
A protest in Tampa on Tuesday is just a small portion of the people gathered across the country at Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters in different cities and the White House in Washington, D.C., where people are trying to get the federal government to stop the ban on kratom at the end of the month.
"I take it everywhere I go. It's all in individual serving sizes," says Tina Saylor as she holds up her kratom powder outside the Tampa DEA offices. If it were Sept. 30, she could be arrested on felony drug charges, because that's when kratom will be as illegal as heroin or meth. "I've got enough to last me two years. Friday when I get my paycheck I'm getting more. Put me in jail then you have to take care of my pain. "
Saylor is just one of a dozen protestors in Tampa. She says kratom has replaced prescription painkillers in her life and doesn't leave her feeling high or like a zombie.
Heather Kelly was the first to arrive Tuesday, ready to protest hoping the DEA will reconsider its decision and do more research on kratom before banning it. "It doesn't make me high, it doesn't make me non functioning. It doesn't make me stupid. I mean its safer for people to drink a kratom tea than it is to go to a bar and have a shot of vodka or tequila."
The reason the DEA has decided to make kratom a schedule 1 drug, right alongside heroin, is because the agency says it has no medical use and a high potential for abuse. However, many of the people protesting say it has changed their lives.
Lots of people are talking about kratom: