Cocktails & Spirits

Lawsuit Claims Addiction to Purple Lotus Kava Bar's Kratom-Laced Drink

"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.

See also: Purple Lotus's Kratom-Laced Kava Drink: We Try For Ourselves

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson