The Drug Enforcement Administration proposed a temporary ban on kratom because of concerns about safety and abuse. However, there was a widespread backlash from the public about the DEA kratom comment.
Why Is There a Sudden Interest on Kratom?
Kratom has a long history of ceremonial and traditional uses in Southeast Asia and Africa. It belongs to the coffee family and is abundant in tropical and subtropical countries.
Nations like New Guinea, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, and Myanmar have a steady supply of kratom.
Kratom has 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine. These alkaloids are responsible for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. 7-hydroxymitragynine resembles the opiate receptors; thus, it can penetrate the central nervous system.
Both alkaloids have a higher potency than morphine, but naloxone can reverse most of their effects.
Most pieces of evidence about kratom come from the experiences of patients and anecdotal reports. Since 2012, at least 50% of scientific literature about it were published results from controlled clinical trials.
Kratom, when used, can produce opioid-like and stimulant-like effects, depending on the chosen strain or vein. Users report stimulant effects if taken at lower doses, and analgesic and opioid effects if taken at higher doses.
Adverse effects of kratom overdose include dizziness, tachycardia, and constipation. Users also suffer from hypotension, anorexia, tremor, psychosis, and seizures. Unlike traditional opiates, you become tolerant and dependent on kratom more slowly.
The DEA Decision About Kratom
On August 31, 2016, DEA announced that it placed alkaloids into Schedule 1 list. Before this decision, DEA and FDA have already declared kratom as a standardized herbal product. Thus, kratom is legal in the US.
DEA placed kratom into Schedule 1 list because it has no accepted medical use and high abuse potential. The emergency scheduling is for two years while it conducts more study about the plant.
DEA based its decision on the diversion from legitimate channels, and actual abuse. Moreover, kratom has clandestine distribution, manufacture, and importation.
According to the agency, available information about kratom shows that it has a high abuse potential with no accepted medical use. Furthermore, users do not undergo close medical supervision.
The concern of DEA is that users misuse kratom in self-treating their opioid withdrawal and chronic pain. Furthermore, users report that its effects are like prescription opioids.
Depending on the doses, kratom has psychoactive effects. It can cause simultaneous stimulation, vivid dreams, euphoria, sedation, analgesia, and relaxation.
DEA also noted the 660 calls to US Poison Centers about kratom exposure from 2010 to 2015. It concluded that kratom use has serious concerns that can lead to death or effects that are more adverse.
The agency justified its decision by mentioning that 6 US states and 15 countries banned kratom. Six more US states are regulating it.
Why Was There a Backlash About the DEA Kratom Comment?
A public backlash occurred right after the DEA decision to ban it albeit temporarily. Advocacy groups demonstrated near the White House. They sent a petition of at least 100,000 signatures to the White House.
The public reaction stressed that kratom is not harmful as what DEA claimed. Kratom is useful in pain management and reduction of opiate addiction. Thus, it must be available to everyone without restrictions.
At least 50 members of Congress signed a letter asking DEA to delay the implementation of the ban. According to them, the decision can hurt treatment innovation and consumer access on kratom.
DEA announced on October 13, 2016, that it withdrew its intent to ban kratom temporarily. The reason given was the widespread backlash on the DEA kratom comment.
What Is the Status of Kratom?
DEA has not published any final decision about kratom. Thus, nobody knows about the status of kratom in the future.
Due to the unprecedented reversal of the DEA decision and intensity of the opposition, advocates of herbal psychoactive drugs can use the same strategy for cases.
Furthermore, if DEA decides to reverse its initial decision with finality, it will be in contrast to the continuous appeal not to regulate marijuana under Schedule I.
The public response on the DEA kratom comment is unprecedented and very powerful. It aims to tell the government that it has a choice on what to take and what not to take as an herbal alternative to many synthetic drugs that swarm the market.