You can sell kratom in Denver again

Businesses in Denver will once again be allowed to sell kratom, a plant-based drug that the city had banned last month.

A kratom leaf. (ThorPorre/Wikimedia Commons)

Businesses in Denver will once again be allowed to sell kratom, a plant-based drug that the city had banned last month, as 5280 reports.

That’s a huge relief for Jeremy Haley, the owner of a once-busy shop where dozens of people came each day to get their kratom fix.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” he said in an interview. “We worked really hard on this, and it’s nice to finally get some justice.

A kratom leaf. (ThorPorre/Wikimedia Commons)
Little leaf, lot of trouble. (ThorPorre/Wikimedia Commons)

Rewind:

All this started because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration proposed a ban on the substance, which is most often consumed as a tea, sometimes smoked and very rarely snorted.

The DEA suggested that kratom was an “imminent hazard” to public health, citing its rising popularity and the potential for addiction, additionally claiming that there had been 15 kratom-related deaths over two years. (A study found these deaths tend to involve other drugs too.)

A decision to make the drug illegal could have come at any time. The city of Denver decided to get one step ahead of the feds, effectively banning kratom sales within city limits early in September. That move affected about a dozen businesses.

But now, the DEA has walked back its position. People like Haley had campaigned far and wide for the drug, saying it has a lot of potential as a replacement for other addictions, as we detailed earlier.

Apparently, the DEA listened. The agency withdrew its rescheduling proposal and called for more research, a turn that a Brookings Institution fellow described as “shocking.”

A pro-kratom protest at the Capitol. (Courtesy Jeremy Haley)
A pro-kratom protest at the Capitol. (Courtesy Jeremy Haley)
So, kratom’s safe, legally speaking, for now.

I don’t know when the federal government will get around to researching the drug or what the results will be, but I’d expect to see it back on sale here very soon.

Haley will be diving into business again with a new shop, Artisan’s Apothecary, on South Broadway. It opens on Monday, Oct. 24, but he’s still not sure if he will sell kratom. He has to ask his landlord, he said.

In the meantime, he’s also considering legal action against the city over lost revenues.

Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.