DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A new drink additive is popping up in shops around Durham and some community leaders are fighting to get it off the shelves.
“The parents in Durham should be scared, they should be very afraid, they should be petrified that this poison is being sold in their community,” said Minister Paul Scott.
The new substance is called Legal Lean, and it’s being sold as a dietary supplement to help ease stress and relax the mind.
It sells for between $10 to 15 per bottle.
“We are in an age where the millennials are waking up socially and politically and it’s a disgrace to have a product to try and put them back to sleep,” Scott said.
The drink additive is named after a homemade drink known as “lean,” “sizzurp” or “purple drank,” a dangerous mixture of prescription cough syrup and soda.
It was made popular in hip hop music and that’s how Legal Lean is also being marketed.
“These are not alternatives — these are gateway drugs,” argued Scott.
Legal Lean does not contain any pain killers or opioids. It’s made from natural products that are often used to aid anxiety and sleep.
“There are some homeopathic natural remedies that are very effective for certain situations. However, a lot of these do have side effects,” explained Dr. Kevin Campbell.
Campbell warns it’s not worth the risk.
“I think it’s really dangerous. It reminds me of the energy drink, energy shot market. We’ve seen thousands of ER visits from young people between 18 and 30 when drinking these drinks and shots and I think we may see some of this in the same light,” Dr. Campbell said.
The product is labeled for adults over 18, but some parents are worried it may be abused by teens and young kids.
“I’m sure there are kids out there doing this and their parents are thinking it’s just an innocent dietary supplement or tube of juice they got from the store,” said Sandra Davis, a worried mother who lives in Durham.
“Remember these are biologically active compounds. There’s never a randomized controlled trial that shows these are safe and effective,” Campbell added.
CBS North Carolina stopped by seven gas stations in Durham to see where it was being sold, but only found it in a few tobacco shops.
The company behind the Legal Lean is also responsible for a type of chocolate that’s marketed as being “snortable.”
“We are demanding that these stores remove that product immediately off,” Scott said.
CBS North Carolina reached out to the company for comment, but have not heard back yet.