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NPR on 7/24/2023 by Peter Haden
Kavasutra is a dimly lit bar in Lantana, Florida, with a rotating cast of characters: the magician, the repo man, the metalhead picking Slipknot on his unplugged Stratocaster. On a recent Friday night, there’s about a dozen other patrons drinking, flirting, swiping at their phones.
What’s not here is booze. The bar serves only nonalcoholic botanical drinks. And tonight, like most nights, one drink is clearly winning out: jumbo plastic cups filled with icy kratom tea.
Kavasutra is among thousands of U.S. businesses that sell kratom, an herbal supplement that’s spurring debate in statehouses and courtrooms nationwide over how it should be classified and regulated.
And there are dozens of wrongful death lawsuits that have been filed over the product and how it is marketed. Last week, a jury in Washington state awarded a $2.5 million verdict in the first kratom wrongful death trial in the U.S.