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Life saver or killer: Kratom remains in SC despite opioid label

Kratom (Madeline Montgomery/WPDE)

The FDA calls Kratom an opioid that can be addictive and dangerous, but it is still legal in South Carolina and is sold in Horry County.

"It has not been made illegal on the federal chart. So, a few states have made it illegal, I think five in total, and South Carolina is not one of those five," said Horry and Georgetown Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.

Kratom is a dried, crushed up leaf from Indonesia.

"You can put it in capsules, you can add it to a beverage or hot tea," said Anthony Buddha Clements, owner of the Conway Kratom Company.

Clements says he uses kratom to help his mental health problems and opioid addiction but he sells the supplement to people for all kinds of reasons.

"I have some that use it for opiates, I have some who use it for energy, cancer patients, after chemo," said Clements.

The Drug Enforcement Administration banned kratom in 2016 but then backtracked because of backlash from users.

"It's so great for people that I don't get why there's such a push to stop it," said Clements.

The DEA and FDA are still trying to ban kratom.

The FDA says kratom has killed 44 people in the US since 2011.

"I would say if I was a parent, I would be very upset with this new drug and the feds probably need to play a little catch up," said Richardson.

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