Congressional Members Ask DEA to Delay Kratom Ban

Congressional Members Ask DEA to Delay Kratom Ban

By Donna Gregory Burch

donnasnowday

Donna Gregory Burch

More than 50 congressional members have asked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to delay its plan to classify kratom as a schedule I controlled substance beginning Oct. 1.

In a letter delivered to acting DEA administrator Charles P. Rosenberg on Monday, the members of Congress urged the agency “to delay a final decision on the placement of kratom as a schedule I, provide ample time for public comment on this significant decision and resolve any inconsistencies with other federal agencies regarding the use of kratom.”

A second letter was sent to Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, requesting his office to use its “statutory authority” to delay the DEA from illegalizing kratom.

Last month, the DEA announced plans to add mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, two active ingredients in kratom, to its list of schedule I controlled substances. Schedule 1 is the DEA’s most restrictive category and includes substances such as heroin and LSD.

Kratom is a tree that’s native to southeast Asia and is related to the coffee plant. It’s been used as an herbal therapy for centuries, and in recent years has gained popularity as a pain reliever and to help with opioid withdrawal.

Six states have banned kratom, saying it can be addictive, but proponents say it’s a safe, natural alternative to opioids and other pain relievers.

“The main chemical [in kratom] is mitragynine,” wrote Reps. Mark Pocan (D-2nd Wisconin) and Matt Salmon (R-5th Arizona) in a Sept. 20 letter to their fellow congressional members seeking support for a scheduling delay. “It binds to some of the same receptors as opioids, providing some pain relief and a calming effect, but not the same high. And the chemical doesn’t cause the same, sometimes deadly side effects as opioids, such as respiratory depression.”

The DEA wants to ban kratom “in order to avoid an imminent hazard to public safety … Kratom is abused for its ability to produce opioid-like effects and is often marketed as a legal alternative to controlled substances. Law enforcement nationwide has seized more kratom in the first half of 2016 than any previous year and easily accounts for millions of dosages intended for the recreational market, according to DEA findings. In addition, 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. These three factors constitute a schedule I controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970.”

The DEA has linked 15 deaths between 2014 and 2016 to the use of kratom, but an analysis of these incidents by Forbes.com found all but one of those deaths involved people who were using other drugs in addition to kratom.

In contrast, 180 people die each month from alcohol overdose.

The DEA’s claim that kratom has no accepted medical use is also debatable as pointed out in Monday’s congressional letter to the DEA:

“As our nation continues to combat the public health crisis of opioid abuse, the federal government has invested significant resources to develop alternative pain management strategies,” reads the letter. “This includes a study funded by the National Institutes of Health in partnership with the University of Massachusetts and the University of Mississippi to investigate the use of kratom as a remedy for opioid withdrawal. This study led the researchers to apply for a patent identifying the kratom extract, mitragynine, as a useful treatment for other addictive drugs besides opiate derivatives. The DEA’s decision to place kratom as a schedule I substance will put a halt on federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions – a significant public health threat. … This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement.”

Kratom users were blindsided last month when they learned of the DEA’s plan, but they quickly rallied together in an effort to stop the scheduling. A WhiteHouse.gov petition asking President Barack Obama to keep kratom legal has garnered more than 130,000 signatures so far. However, it generally takes the White House several weeks to respond to petitions, so it’s unlikely any help will come from that front before the end of the month. On Sept. 13, kratom proponents rallied in Washington, D.C.

With the delivery of Monday’s congressional letter, kratom supporters are now waiting for the DEA’s response.

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The following congressional members signed the letter to the DEA in support of a delay to allow for more study and public comment:

Justin Amash (Michigan)

Dan Benishek (Michigan)

Earl Blumenauer (Oregon)

Suzanne Bonamici (Oregon)

David Brat (Virginia)

Julie Brownley (California)

Michael Capuano (Massachusetts)

Steve Cohen (Tennessee)

Gerald E. Connolly (Virginia)

John Conyers (Michigan)

Jim Costa (California)

Peter A. DeFazio (Oregon)

Suzan K. DelBene (Washington)

Keith Ellison (Minnesota)

Tom Emmer (Minnesota)

Lois Frankel (Florida)

Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii)

Paul Gosar (Arizona)

Tom Graves (Georgia)

Morgan Griffith (Virginia)

Denny Heck (Washington)

Joe Heck (Nevada)

Michael M. Honda (California)

Richard Hudson (North Carolina)

Steve Israel (New York)

Hank Johnson (Georgia)

Walter B. Jones (North Carolina)

Steve King (Iowa)

Raul R. Labrador (Idaho)

Leonard Lance (New Jersey)

Barbara Lee (California)

Frank LoBiondo (New Jersey)

Zoe Lofgren (California)

Barry Loudermilk (Georgia)

Thomas Massie  (Kentucky)

Betty McCollum (Minnesota)

Gwen Moore (Wisconsin)

Mick Mulvaney (South Carolina)

Scott Peters (California)

Mark Pocan (Wisconsin)

Ted Poe (Texas)

Jared Polis (Colorado)

Dana Rohrabacher (California)

Tim Ryan (Ohio)

Matt Salmon (Arizona)

Mark Sanford (South Carolina)

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (Virginia)

Adam Smith (Nebraska)

Scott Tipton (Colorado)

Brad Wenstrup (Ohio)

John Yarmuth (Kentucky)

Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue and other symptoms. She covers news, treatments, research and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia on her blog, FedUpwithFatigue.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.

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Authored by: Donna Gregory Burch

There are 20 comments for this article
  1. Pain Warrior at 6:41 am

    For those wanting to find out more about Kratom, there is an online support group of Kratom users for pain. It’s called: I am Kratom
    Check it out.
    My take is they are doing this so they may perhaps get their own patent in thw future on Kratom. Just my opinion. But we all know how the government operates.

  2. BC at 8:36 am

    I’m glad to see an organized response to the DEA’s latest push to make another chemical illegal through legislation. I am not a Kratom user but I know that in a government’s zeal to “correct through legislation”, the situation just becomes more problematic. As in many cases, no easy solution exists, just another item on item on the agency’s agenda.

  3. Dan at 8:17 pm

    This is great! I am not a krantom user however, I have heard many positive attributes . God bless you all if it helps you in any way! Very safe alternative to many other medications! I will continue to pray that they do not hastily ban krantom. Best..Dan #PNA

  4. HAZZY at 2:57 pm

    TIM, SHE JUST SAID I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PRESCRIBE VALIUM, I THINK SHE DOSEN’T WANT TO PAY THE FEE FOR THE LICENSE TO PRESCRIBE IT.

    WHAT IS THIS KRATOM ??

  5. Tim Mason at 5:43 pm

    Danny, Most convenience stores around here Northwest Georgia sell Kratom Capsules. I bought the Matrix Brand-Green Thai. They are 500mg capsules/ 20 per pack for $13.00. Most gas stations (convenience stores) display it behind the counter in plain sight.
    Supposedly on the 30th all of it will be picked up by the men in black suits.

  6. Misti M at 5:17 pm

    What a riot it is that it is already illegal in Wisconsin but Wisconsin signed I would for sure be willing to try

  7. Doug at 3:30 pm

    They need to stop asking and start demanding. All these alphabet soup group agencies work for the government not the other way around. This is what the problem is with our elected officials, they’ve forgotten who they work for and who works for them.

  8. Tim Mason at 12:01 pm

    Hazzy, did she say why she could not prescribe this particular drug for you? That is not a lot. Many doctors will tell you that you need to see a psychiatrist for diazepam but this in not true. The replacements Baclofen and tiazadine did not work for me.

  9. Danny Elliott at 11:40 am

    I have read several positive opinions about kratom in the comments of others here on this website, including the one today by “kathy a overcast”. And, because of the subject matter of this article, I thought I would give kratom a try. I would do anything to get off my meds (or at least be able to reduce the amount I have to use). However, I haven’t had any luck finding a way to purchase kratom. Granted, I only spent about an hour, but most online sellers were closed. Can anyone help me out? I just want to see if I can actually get SOME pain relief. I’m not looking for a miracle. Well, I’m ALWAYS looking for a miracle, but not with kratom. I just would like to test it before the FDA/DEA makes it
    illegal. Thanks, in advance, for any help that can be provided.

  10. Renee Mace at 11:37 am

    Today at my Pain Medication Clinic here in Washington State where Marijuana is legal, the clinic had a sign saying as of September 19 2016, the Marijuana is now a schedule I and can no longer be taken, and if you test positive for it, you will no longer be able to get your pain medications. I do not use it for it doesn’t help me with my CPS, but how can that be, anyone over the age of 18 years old can go buy and use pot but not if you are taking pain medications. My what a crazy insane world we live in.

  11. Sandy at 11:00 am

    Can I ask how Krstom is used. Is it a tablet or capsule. Ive never heard of it, but my new primaty care doctor is wanting to change my medicstion. I know not to ask the doctor for another medication, but if it helps pain, I would love to get off medication I’m on and just wanted some feedback from those of you who has used it and if it has helped your pain. Thank you do mich!

  12. Jake at 10:51 am

    So where are we officially on the ban? has the DEA made any effort to respond at all?

  13. HAZZY at 9:34 am

    Well, i went to my Internal Medicine Doctor yesterday. She told me that she will no longer be aloud to Prescribe Valium 5mg x 30. So now what the heck are us Chronic Pain Sufferer’s supposed to do now? What’s next, take all Chronic Pain Sufferer’s out and line us up and shoot us. This garbage is getting old !!!!

  14. Tim Mason at 8:35 am

    molecular-dx/4100/fair-lump-kratom-dangerous-opioids
    Not addictive.

  15. Tim Mason at 8:29 am

    I read an article on LabRoots yesterday where scientists tested Kratom on mice to see if they would show addictive signs. They did not. Next they used purified alkaloids from Kratom to see if they could elicit an addictive responsive in mice. Scientists confirmed that Kratom is not addictive.

  16. mitchell wall at 7:11 am

    Maybe the DEA is anticipating the impact legalizing marijuana is going to have on their ability to continue to operate at the level they are, currently, and as a result they need to find other substances to fill the void. If the number of deaths over the last two years are accurate, I’m sure there are plenty of other substances that are much more dangerous, that are truly a danger to society that should be banned.
    The medical community should be testing this substance to see if it really is a safe alternative to opioids, there are too many people suffering needlessly for this to not be looked at as an alternative for opiods.
    Sadly, we know that money drives what is used for pain, not effectiveness.

  17. kathy a overcast at 4:47 am

    Kratom has saved my life! I’ve lived on multiple potent pain killers and and array of medications for years, due to multiple chronic conditions causing me severe pain 24/7, and even while on all those meds all I could do was lay around in bed or on a couch, with no life what-so-ever…and then I stubbled across kratom….it truly saved my life, and I don’t know what I will do if I have to go back to all those prescription pain killers and drugs!!! The life I was living, wasn’t worth living at all!!! I now have gone back to college at 58 years old and I’m due to graduate with my degree in Behavioral Sciences, next semester, to go in the field of Drug and Alcohol counselor, but if I have to go back on medication, it will put me right back in the bed, and the last 3 1/2 years of school will be a waste. I can’t live like that again! Without kratom I might as well be dead.