"This is what $15,000 worth of kratom looks like," Michael Siegel remembers Purple Lotus Bar owner Jimmy Scianno saying as he lifted a brick of the brown powder over his head.
The bar then broke out in chatter. Some people just stared in awe. Others half-jokingly plotted ways to swipe the goods. Everyone kept sipping their murky tea of kava and kratom, their eyes peering over coconut-shell cups.
That was 18 months ago. Kratom's currently banned in Thailand, Australia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and recently Indiana and Tennessee. Kratom was legal in Florida then, and it still is now.
Some argue it weans addicts off stronger drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methadone, and others simply like the way it makes them feel. But then there's Michael Siegel, who believes that kratom ripped apart his family -- his wife, Erica Siegel, is currently at a rehab center in Boca Raton to combat her addiction to kratom, he says.