DEA announces intent to schedule kratom
WASHINGTON - The Drug Enforcement Administration announced its intention on Tuesday to add the kratom plant to its list of Schedule I Controlled Substances.
The DEA says the plant, which is a tropical tree that grows in several locales in Southeast Asia, poses an imminent hazard to public safety. The plant is also known by its scientific name, Mitragyna speciosa.
Drug enforcement officials say kratom is abused for its ability to produce opioid-like effects and is sometimes markets as a legal alternative to narcotics. The DEA reports kratom has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
Law enforcement has seized kratom in various forms in locations where it is currently illegal in various forms of powder, plant, capsules, tablets, liquids, gum/resin and patches. The DEA reports an inability to determine identity, purity levels and quantity of the substance contributes to the “significant adverse health risks to users.”
The FDA has also warned the public not to use any products labeled as containing kratom due to concerns about toxicity and potential health impacts.. The substance has been on the DEA’s list of drugs and chemicals of concern for several years. Should kratom be added to the DEA list of Schedule I Controlled Substances, it would be temporarily added alongside heroin, MDMA and marijuana on Sept. 30.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers identified only two exposures to kratom between 2000 and 2005. In the five years that followed, poison centers reported 660 calls related to kratom exposure. The Center for Disease Control found that kratom abuse leads to agitation, irritability, tachycardia, nausea, drowsiness and hypertension. The DEA reports 15 kratom-related deaths between 2014 and 2016.
Organizations like the American Kratom Association champion the use of the plant as a natural analgesic with benefits to overall health and mental well-being. They note that kratom is non-habit forming unless taken in extremely high doses for extended periods of time. As of this writing, kratom remains legal in all states except Indiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Vermont, Arkansas and Alabama where it is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.
The full letter from the DEA can be read here.