By Mark Ackerman

DENVER (CBS4)– Denver’s Department of Environmental Health plans to lift its ban on the drug kratom, just weeks after ordering shops across the metro area to stop selling kratom products.

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On Aug. 30 the Drug Enforcement Agency announced its intent to make kratom illegal, classifying kratom as a Schedule I drug on par with heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

Kratom (credit: CBS)

Kratom (credit: CBS)

The DEA labeled kratom an “imminent threat,” stating the substance which comes from a tropical tree in Southeast Asia, has been linked to “15 kratom-related” deaths over the past three years. After the DEA’s notice of intent, the Denver Department of Environmental Health forced 15 local retailers to pull kratom from store shelves.

But the DEA ban hasn’t happened. Kratom users came forward at protests in Colorado and across the country saying kratom has actually helped them kick harder drugs, like opiate addictions. In turn, members of Congress asked the DEA to gather more input before taking action on kratom.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“The DEA’s recent actions suggest that they may not think these products pose an imminent health hazard as they initially indicated,” said Danica Lee the Director on Inspections at Denver Department of Environmental Health.

Lee says Denver’s “cease and desist” orders on kratom products will be lifted by early next week.

“If new information comes to our attention about the hazards posed by these products, DEH will evaluate it and make adjustments, if need be, to remain protective of public health,” she said.

A DEA spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. The agency is expected to make a final ruling on kratom in December at the earliest.

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Mark Ackerman is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. Follow him on Twitter @ackermanmark