The DEA has decided to delay its announced September 30th scheduling of kratom as a Schedule I drug. The Free Thought Project reported on the first of September, kratom has now been targeted by the DEA for reclassification as a Schedule I drug along with heroin, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy, and peyote.
Currently available over the counter, at health food stores, and online, the DEA declared on August 30th, 2016 that the use of kratom constitutes an “imminent hazard to public safety” and cited over 600 calls to poison control and 15 deaths related to kratom.
But as U.S. News and World Reports noted, the DEA admitted that fourteen of those deaths were also associated with drug addiction to other drugs (like heroin), leading many to speculate about the motive behind the DEA’s decision to ban the plant.
While kratom users may be breathing a sigh of relief from the DEA’s announced delay, they shouldn’t hold their breath, because according to DEA spokesman Russ Baer, the delay is just temporary. The DEA still plans to go ahead with its kratom ban adding it will only be a “couple of days” before their decision is published and final.
Baer contends kratom is dangerous. He said, “Our review of the scientific literature,” indicates kratom’s use, “does in some cases produce psychosis, does produce hallucinations, delusions, does result in some cases in respiratory depression, physical withdrawal and in severe cases, death.”
The American Kratom Association, The United Kratom Association, The American Herbal Products Association, Botanical Education Alliance, and regular kratom users disagree with the DEA. Calling it their “darkest hour” the groups are urgently pleading for everyone to get involved to fight the DEA’s decision to ban kratom by signing a petition (click here), calling their Congressmen, and voicing their objections to a kratom ban by contacting the DEA directly.
While the delayed kratom ban may appear to be a small victory for advocates, users, distributors, and researchers alike, the move to ban the plant is quickly moving forward. And unless a greater public outcry ensues, the ban may end up being as permanent as the ban on marijuana which has now lasted almost 80 years.
After the emergency announcement in August of the DEA’s intention to classify yet another plant as a dangerous drug, a bipartisan group of 51 U.S. Congressmen drafted a letter to Charles P. Rosenburg (acting administrator of the DEA) urging the agency to reconsider its decision. The congressmen contended the emergency declaration to classify kratom as a Schedule I drug was unprecedented and lacked the regular time period allowing for public comments to be heard.
The letter also stated researchers working with the National Institutes of Health are currently researching kratom’s use as an alternative pain medicine, and is internationally recognized for its ability to mitigate withdrawal symptoms in heroin users. The statement contends a ban on kratom would “put a halt to federally funded research” of the plant which has demonstrated promise in combating the current heroin addiction sweeping the country. The letter called on Rosenburg to “engage consumers, researchers, and other stakeholders” and delay its decision.
Still, the DEA seems intent on criminalizing Kratom, which will likely, in effect, create a black market for the drug, criminalize its use, possession, and importation, and complicate efforts by researchers to use federal funds to study its potential health benefits.
Many experts and users believe the plant is able to help opioid addicts (Oxycontin, Morphine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone etc.) and heroin users kick their addictions. Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) originates from Southeast Asia, but has quickly become the go to nutritional supplement for heroin users here in the U.S. looking to kick or curb their habit.
The Free Thought Project spoke with 21-year-old James (not his real name), an admitted Heroin addict. He said he was able to kick his heroin addiction by using kratom. He was able to purchase capsules in various places throughout Phoenix, AZ and said he uses kratom pills and teas to curb his urges to get high on opiates. Without kratom, he said he’d likely be dead. Combined with meditation, James said he was able to live a full and healthy life and now has an Information Technology business.
According to Azarius, kratom has been used in East Asia, “to moderate opium addiction…gradually wean the user off narcotics (and help) stop use of the narcotic they are addicted to.” Azarius further discovered the plant, “has been used in New Zealand for methadone addiction detox.” In other words, many, including scientific researchers, believe kratom has the power to cure opioid addiction which has reached epidemic proportions here in the U.S., a result the CDC says comes from the over-prescription of prescription pain killers. Heroin addiction in the U.S. has reached epic proportions and has led to thousands of lives cut short by addiction to opiates they received through a doctor’s prescription.
As we reported to you in early September, pharmaceutical companies have been using the natural plant, kratom, to manufacture synthetic opioids. As TFTP’s Matt Agorist wrote, “since kratom can be grown in your backyard, pharmaceutical companies can’t monopolize it — unless the government outlaws it.” And that’s exactly what the DEA, who many say share too cozy a relationship with the pharmaceutical companies, seems determined to do.