A new drug called Kratom is causing concern, but it has gained attention for all the wrong reasons.
Despite the looming concerns from the DEA, the Kratom leaf is legal. In fact, the herb is sold in the city and suburbs--including a Wicker Park smoke shop which is selling it for $25 a pack.
"I ingested it in a cup of tea. I don't really think it had too much of an effect on me," says Kratom user Brian Brissart. "I felt really happy and sort of euphoric."
Brissart, 23, says he tried Kratom while visiting New York.
"I remember getting really sweaty and hot, but I don't feel like it was a harsh drug or anything like that," Brian says, adding that the effects last around 30 minutes.
The DEA warns the leaves from Kratom trees are widely available on the Internet and sold as crushed leaves that can be smoked or steeped for tea and as gel caps.
A Wicker Park smoke shop is just one of several stores selling the latest leaf that has the Drug Enforcement Administration on alert. You can see the shiny foil packaging containing Kratom from the sidewalk.
The leaf native to Southeast Asia is banned there but legal here..
The DEA says Kratom can lead to addiction. At low doses users report alertness and energy and at high doses, the drug produces sedative effects.