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Drugs & Medical Devices

DEA Proposes Rule to Classify Kratom as Schedule I Drug

— September 9, 2016

The Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, published a notice on August 31, 2016, of its intent to temporarily schedule Kratom as a Schedule I drug. According to the DEA, the measure is needed to “avoid imminent hazard to public safety”. Schedule I includes    heroin and other dangerous drugs. That rule is scheduled to become effective September 30th.

Kratom, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is a native tropical tree of Southeast Asia and is a relative of the coffee tree. Its leaves contain opioid compounds that, when consumed, are said to provide pain relief, uplift moods, and act as an aphrodisiac. It is sold as an herbal remedy.

The sale of Kratom is not illegal in most states, and it is readily available on the Internet. The leaves can be purchased in the form of powder, capsules, extract or gum. It is sometimes referred to as herbal speedball, biak-biak, ketum, kahuam, ithang and thom.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

According to the DEA, Kratom has not been linked to fatal overdoses, but its use in commercial forms that have been laced with other substances are known to have caused deaths. Side effects can include nausea, loss of appetite, sweating and psychotic symptoms.

The White House has an Internet site where We the People can create a petition. If the petition receives a minimum of 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the White house promises to respond. On August 30th, a petition asking that it stop DEA’s plans to make Kratom a Schedule I drug was created. From August 30th to September 9th, the petition has been signed 110,309 times; more than enough to supposedly get a response from the White House within 60 days. Of course, the response may not be made until well after September 30th when the proposed rule goes into effect.

According to the American Kratom Association, some individual states have passed legislation banning Kratom. Those states include Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin. Two counties, including San Diego CA and Sarasota Fla. have banned the substance. Legislation is currently pending in New York and North Carolina. A number of states have proposed legislation that did not pass or died in committee.

As can be deducted by the number of signatures on the White House petition, Kratom is very popular. Advocates insist that it is a natural analgesic and that it is safe to use for pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression. They liken it to tea or coffee.

Could it be that the greedy pharmaceutical companies are not getting their cut and are raising a stink? It is well known that big money can buy legislation in both individual states and in Congress. What do you think?


Drug Enforcement Administration

Kratom, Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

We the People Petition

American Kratom Association

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