The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced its plan to ban kratom – an herb also known as mitragyna speciose.
A petition against the Kratom ban has gained over 80,000 signatures with 100,000 needed to get a response from the White House.
Kratom has been popular in the US among people self-managing chronic pain and those trying to get clean from opiate addiction. The herb is also used for recreational purposes due to its relaxing effect.
The DEA want to make kratom a Schedule I Substance, which means it will be considered in the same class as ecstasy, heroin, LSD and Mescaline (Peyote).
Schedule 1 substances are described as drugs with no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. According to the DEA, this includes marijuana.
Thousands of kratom users have come forward about using the herb for chronic pain treatment and opioid replacement therapy in light of the ban.
The DEA claim that “there is no legitimate medical use for kratom” in a 2013 evaluation report. However, in the same report the drug enforcement administration state: “Kratom abuse is not monitored by any national drug abuse surveys.”
This suggest that there is little or no evidence that the herb is being abused, and kratom is not detected by standard drug tests.
A Gizmodo report states that an investigation into kratom’s potential side effects were not well vetted:
“The DEA lists potentially harmful effects to humans that mirror the findings of the FDA—findings we reported were not particularly well-sourced or investigated. Likewise, regulatory notices continue to refer to the constituent chemicals mitragynine and 7- hydroxymitragynine as opioids, which they aren’t.”
Because kratom production is not well-regulated, adulterated preparations of the herb has led to serious side effects.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2010 to 2015, the US poison centers received 660 calls about kratom exposure. Over a five-year period, this is a small number of calls and much lower than reports of opioid abuse and overdoses.
Majority of the calls were about moderate side effects, which are described as moderate “a non-life threatening, with no residual disability, but requiring some form of treatment.”
One death was reported in the five-year period with a person who also took paroxetine (an antidepressant) and lamotrigine.
The petition page against the kratom ban claims that opiate usage and deaths went up in Alabama – a state that ban use of kratom.
The herb is reportedly non-additive and is known to help aid in opiate withdrawal. Many advocates have accused the DEA of using minimal research to justify the ban.
Kratom was considered a dietary supplement and is mainly consumed as a tea.
What is kratom?
Kratom comes from a tree in the coffee family and originates from Southeast Asia. It has been used in traditional medicine by people in Thailand. Recently it has been used as a dietary supplement. At low dosages, kratom is comparable to coffee and can act like a stimulant, boosting alertness. At higher doses, kratom produces an opioid-like effects can help ease chronic pain.
People fear that opioid-related deaths will increase once the ban is put into effect.
The American Kratom Association has listed all the things you can do to fight the ban here. The AKA statement includes the following:
“Many of you depend on this healing leaf for your general well-being, pain and suffering, depression, anxiety, PTSD, opioid dependency and more.”
“Experts have confirmed the 2 main alkaloids in kratom the DEA wishes to schedule (effectively banning the whole plant) are safe, effective and have many positive benefits.”
Whether you are kratom user or know one? Share how the herb has affected your life in the comments below.
[Photo by Eric Kayne/Joe Raedle/Getty Images]