DEA Moves on Kratom Classification

DEA Moves on Kratom Classification

by Ed Coghlan

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is continuing to try and squeeze what it believes are addictive drugs and properties.  Today it announced its intention to place the active materials in the kratom plant into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in order to avoid what it calls “an imminent hazard to public safety”.

Kratom is a relatively new drug to the US and Europe.  It has been used for many years in Southeast Asia as an anti-diarrheal medicine, a painkiller and a recreational drug.

It has been reaching the United States in larger proportions. The DEA says over 55,000 kilograms were “encountered” by law enforcement between February 2014 and July 2016.  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

Kratom is abused for its ability to produce opioid-like effects and is often marketed as a legal alternative to controlled substances.  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.

Kratom has been seized by law enforcement in various forms, including powder, plant, capsules, tablets, liquids, gum/resin, and drug patch. Because the identity, purity levels, and quantity of these substances are uncertain and inconsistent, they pose 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. In addition, FDA has issued and updated two import alerts related to kratom products.  Kratom has been on DEA’s list of drugs and chemicals of concern for several years.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers identified two exposures to kratom from 2000 and 2005.  Between 2010 and 2015, U.S. poison centers received 660 calls related to kratom exposure.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that kratom abuse leads to agitation, irritability, tachycardia,  nausea, drowsiness, and hypertension.  Health risks found in kratom abusers include hepatotoxicity, psychosis, seizure, weight loss, insomnia, tachycardia, vomiting, poor concentration, hallucinations, and death.  DEA is aware of 15 kratom-related deaths between 2104 and 2016.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 35 comments for this article
  1. Chuck at 7:26 pm

    Hey Tim Mason,

    The ONE thing that is obvious to me is that these Statistics do not use GROUPS, SETS or SUBSETS. I have yet to see a PIE chart either.
    I remember a statement in the Forward section of my Freshman Statistics textbook which read: “There are three kinds of lies. “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”.
    Someone needs to run all these grant funded studies with statistics thru the Math Department to be reviewed for accuracy.
    I am so pi**ed I may put an equation and theory together myself.

    Please do. We need the real numbers and not all this ginned up cr*p.

  2. Chuck at 7:22 pm

    I think the head of DEA must own acreage where they grow Kratom. Now every 13 year old in the country will want to try it because now it is “forbidden”.

  3. Kahn-man at 8:10 pm

    All I have to say is that the big pharmaceutical companies have paid someone in the DEA off…the only reason they would ban kratom is so that people using it to come off other illicit drugs can continue using the painkillers that big pharmaceutical companies make a fortune off of

  4. Tim Mason at 4:45 am

    The FDA (Federal Death Administration) announces recalls 100’s of drugs and products per month. Kratom has been around so long it could be considered a “Patent Drug” (look that one up) Heck, Just put the Surgeon General’s warning on it like cigarettes. Surely Kratom is more toxic and addictive than cigarettes!

    You don’t see the going after St John’s Wart or Garlique brand of standardized dried garlic.
    I remember when I first started working as a chemist one of my companies products was a Cough Remedy. Each bottle approx. 75 ml contained 4 ml of chloroform. Now here was something that was harmful.
    The misinformation is really getting ridiculous. I have jotted down a few of these stats on Opioid Epidemic, and fact checked them against a few studies.

    The ONE thing that is obvious to me is that these Statistics do not use GROUPS, SETS or SUBSETS. I have yet to see a PIE chart either.
    I remember a statement in the Forward section of my Freshman Statistics textbook which read: “There are three kinds of lies. “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”.
    Someone needs to run all these grant funded studies with statistics thru the Math Department to be reviewed for accuracy.
    I am so pissed I may put an equation and theory together myself.
    .

  5. Andre at 4:03 pm

    Withdrawals from kratom is much like that of caffeine. Is that next? Tell all the Americans that drink coffee that they can’t? This is all about big Pharma getting theirs. Let’s keep people in pain and on our prescribed opiates. This seems to go against all that the DEA is working to stop. Put more prescription drugs out there… Doesn’t make sense to me. Please… Let me decide for myself.

  6. Pingback: Kratom: What is it? And Why is the DEA Banning it? - Green Rush Daily
  7. AJ at 12:53 am

    This article is extremely misleading and biased. One hour of research on kratom may have helped significantly. While the U.S. poison centers have had 660 calls over all those years due to kratom, they also receive a call approximately every 45 seconds due to children who have accidentally ingested laundry detergent. Shell we classify that a schedule I narcotic as well? While kratom has been shown to be addictive when used daily, so have the other treatments for opioid addiction such as suboxone and methadone. The only difference is, the withdrawal from kratom is diarrhea, nausea, and a runny nose, while the withdrawal from the other treatments is much the same as opiate withdrawal-extreme pain and sickness to the point where most cannot handle it and end up going back to the drug for relief. Also, from what I’ve read, all overdoses involving kratom, have been largely due to combining it with other drugs, especially any type of depressant. It is next to impossible to overdose from just the kratom by itself. I suspect the real issue here is that it is becoming more popular as a natural treatment for pain and addiction, which would cost the medical community big time if it continues with it’s success. Therefore, the government must shut it down.

  8. Catalina at 9:35 pm

    Is this a joke? Okay so they’re going to make Kratom illegal? The deaths caused by kratom probably weren’t even caused by kratom they were probably mixed with other substances and the DEA saw Kratom and ran with it. According to the post above Kratom has caused 15 deaths in 2 years. But we’re going to keep ALCOHOL legal which has caused over 88,000 deaths in 1 year! Are you kidding me? I have never had any of the side effects mentioned above happen to me. It is all about money, the DEA wants to ban it because it is making them have less work because it is getting people off of hard drugs, less people are doing heroin, meth, and everything else on the streets therefore making the DEA have less work to do. Also the pharmaceutical companies are finding out how many benefits this herb has and wants to use it for themselves. Ibuprofen has caused over a thousand deaths in the last year why don’t we ban that? Tobacco has caused over 480,000 deaths in a year and we still sell that in the stores everywhere! The DEAs priorities are so messed up and it is not fair to take away something that has saved my life just so you can make money. Kratom is less dangerous than most over the counter medicine.
    Okay so I was struggling with depression really deep depression. I contemplated suicide all the time and even made a few attempts. One of my friends told me that Kratom helps with depression. I have tried multiple antidepressants, been to the doctor multiple times and nothing worked. Some antidepressants helped but nothing ever took away the pain, and yes depression is painful. So I decided to try kratom and all I have to say is, I want to live. I wake up every morning looking forward to the day. I don’t want to just lay in bed, cry, and hang my head and I am no longer contemplating suicide. Let me just say I was homeless living on the streets and an alcoholic . Now I am alcohol-free and a successful person with not just a job but a career. And I know I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have Kratom to help with my depression. So if you want to take that away from me and a lot of other people then shame on you DEA!

  9. Barb Williams at 7:17 pm

    My son is in chronic pain, and when I sent him some Kratom that I heard about on one of the forums, he was pleased to take his pain down a notch or two. He has CRPS which is one of the most painful diseased on the McGill Scale. He has taken it for 2 years with no problems, no additions. In fact, after a terrible reaction to ketamine, his pain doctor told him if he helps, take it. This is going to destroy thousands of people in pain and those getting off hard drugs. The woman at the diversion office at the DEA said we needed to make a lot of noise. The number to call is202 307 7297. I don’t see the DEA putting compressed air on the Schedule 1 list, and I know people abuse that.

  10. Connie Fuller at 4:55 pm

    There is actual university conducted research done on Kratom and according to those results the DEA is lying.
    It acts as opiate agonist and antagonist, thus no high or impaired functioning like there is with prescription painkillers. It’s self-regulating, as if you take too much you simply vomit. Thus, no OVERDOSING possible.
    The only deaths that have occurred have been by those using tainted, laced, adulterated Kratom or those having other legal and illegal drugs (mainly a cocktail of antidepressants).
    This 100% natural leaf allows me to work full time, take care of my family, and be a contributing member of society. Without it many more people would on SSI disability and a burden to taxpayers. Others would be dead due to suicide induced by unbearable and untreated pain.
    It’s time for our government to get out of the pockets of pharmaceutical companies. It’s quite coincidental that this “Emergency Scheduling” (because Kratom has no medicinal value) is proposed at a time when pharmaceutical companies have 4 patents pending on the alkaloids, in order to create synthetic Opiods from them. Sounds medicinal to me.

  11. Mike P at 4:52 pm

    Kratom IS VERY dangerous!! It all but wrecked my fiancé life. She went from being a manager for an international healthcare products company for 15 years to finally getting fired. All because of the long term effects of heavy Kratom use! It almost broke us apart. How very sad to see this college educated woman go through withdraws the same way as a person withdrawing from heroin!! Nothing mattered but feeding her Kratom addiction. She would lie, borrow money, pawn jewelry and God knows what else just to get her Kratom!! She may as well been using crack or heroin because the end result is the same. It wrecked her life for years!! This ban by the DEA is long overdue! I even consulted an Attorney about doing a class action suit. I take meds for chronic pain and would never ever consider trying Kratom after seeing what it actually did to her!

  12. Cathy True at 1:27 pm

    If a very LARGE group of True chronic pain patients that have followed all the rules doesn’t connect with ALL gov.agencies that are controlling our lives and let them know we are and will vote out all of them,call the Rep.and dem.that control what happens in our states and let them know we will work to put people in office that is willing to talk for us and see that these officials leave our Doctors alone to make the decisions for our pain mg.things we will be left to suffer.There will be more people kill themselves or try to find street drugs for relief.Not because they want to but because they want some relief.Any true pain pt.knows we will always have pain.All we ask is for a leave of pain that keeps us out of bed.I am sorry for the way I wrote this post but today is a very bad pain day and I am having a hard time just trying to spell.

  13. Brian at 9:14 am

    Kratom is not dangerous. When reports list things like hallucinations as a possible side effect I laugh. It’s the media and big pharma in bed with one another trying to get natural substances scheduled by using scare tactics. Big pharma can’t exactly put a patent on a leaf that’s existed for thousands of years minimum and that can compete with their toxic and addictive medications. I was introduced to Kratom when I was suffering from the effects of Lyme disease and it was a god send. It helped me get through the day and keep working when I was so very sick. When I got better I just stopped using it. No withdrawal and I didn’t even think about it. Sounds dangerous huh? What a shame that Kratom will probably become scheduled. Just to line the pockets of tyrants in the DEA, law enforcement, and big pharma. This country seems to get less “free” year after year. I don’t oppose regulation to weed out unscrupulous supplement companies, but how dare politicians with no medical training tell me what I can and can’t put in my body.

  14. Gracie Bagosy-Young at 8:39 am

    There are several “Tim Mason’s” in the pain world on social media. Will THIS Tim Mason please find me and friend me? My FB name is Gracie Gean, my first and middle names. Thank you.

  15. Angelica Heavner at 5:20 am

    I find it amazing how much the government wants to control everything we do. The USA was built on freedom and free will and living on standards of its own not the way England’s King and Queen were demanding. Guess what we are back to that again only our King and Queen is what we call DEA, CDC, FBI, and every other government entity trying to control what we do.
    The biggest problem I see is these are natural plants that are being classified as controlled substances. The plant isn’t the problem it is and always has been what people add to it afterwards that makes it dangerous. That was taught to them by the government so nice job.
    Stop punishing the honest pain patients and try going after the right people. The dealers, the actual drug addicts (the ones watching clocks for next dose, or taking them differently than prescribed) the ones profitting from this whole nightmare. Because guess what, the ones making money on it are the ones in positions of power, local government offices, state government offices, etc. Look at Mayor Barry of DC; caught on tape several times and was still able to stay in a high level government office position. Anyone else would be in jail he got nothing.
    Get it together and stop hurting the American people with so called guidelines for our good. Got news for you anyone that has no option but to look into anything for some relief from the pain would perfer not to take anything to begin with. We didn’t ask for our disorders and pain but we do have to live with it.

  16. marty at 2:13 am

    Many people get relief from Kratom. I personally choose not to try it fro several reasons. First it grows abundantly in Thailand but is illegal. I spent months going thru every article and comments that I could. I would say it was a 50/50 split and lastly I had 2 older friends in their 60’s who had bad reactions to it. What they called as “being a bad trip” No they didn’t take to much. As with anything certain people can handle certain things. Does it need more research?? Absolutely but until facts are presented let the people who it helps use it!!

  17. Tim Mason at 1:02 am

    Thanks for the great link JoJordan. I signed the petition. This was a great link you provided. Very easy and they did not ask for $$.
    Carry on my friend.

  18. jojordan at 8:47 pm

    Sorry I overstated the signatures. It’s around 10K. Let’s get it up to 100K.

  19. Krissy at 8:45 pm

    Let’s let the DEA know that fresh basil smells like Pot and maybe they’ll go sniffing around kitchen herb gardens for a change.

  20. Gerri-Lu at 7:21 pm

    I “ditto” Audrey’s reply, which comes before mine. Kratom is a leaf from a tree. The DEA is trying to make it a drug so a WHOLE LOT of people can make a WHOLE LOT of money. I never heard of Kratom until a few months ago, when the so called “war on opioids” began. I suppose it surfaced as people were looking for an alternative for their Pain Control. She I Googled it back then I saw that Nancy Pelosi’s son, Paul Pelosi, was the Executive Director of the AKA,(American Kratom Association). WOW!! I thought this to be quite coincidental.
    1) never heard of Kratom. 2)Politians family member is the E.D. of this leaf’s Association
    3) DEA is classifying it as a Class I Controlled Substance=as dangerous and lethal as Heroin, and if found in your possession, it’s a Felony. That’s what Thad did with the cannabis plant. The ONLY thing I know for certain, is that people who take Opioid Medications to help manage their Pain, ARE BEING MANIPULATED BY THE SYSTEM….AGAIN; STILL. What they are doing, will be revealed, and you can be sure it’s for their Capital Gain, NOT for improvement of the quality of human life of pain sufferers. (Insert profanity HERE!)

  21. Pharmacist Steve at 7:12 pm

    All those herbs/homeopathic medications on the market being sold without any clinical trials and just a warning on the label that “the FDA has not approved this for treating any condition” Where is the rational for putting “law enforcement” in charge of determining what substances are legal/illegal medically.

  22. Angel at 6:36 pm

    Why not give folks proper information and let them make informed decisions instead of banning everything. It’s unAmerican to ban and control everything. American freedom our principles dictate less regulation more choices more knowledge and self responsibility and care. The DEA has become a nightmare for pain patients. Too much regulation and biased agenda driven information.

  23. jojordan at 5:40 pm

    Yes Doug I totally agree with you. It’s time for the DEA to go. The CDC needs total revamping! Vote all incumbents out and start fresh. If they don’t keep the alphabet agencies in check then vote them out. Maybe politicians will pay more attention to the people if they know the clock is ticking on their political careers.

  24. Mark Ibsen MD at 4:47 pm

    So sad.
    Thinking of all those who found relief from this herb.
    Free access to alternative therapies is squeezed while useful therapies disappear.
    Why lock up Kratom while heroin thrives?

  25. Mona Twocats-Romero at 4:46 pm

    So there has been approximately one death per year that is “associated” with this herb. How many deaths are there from Tylenol each year? What the hell is wrong with the DEA? BigPharma must be interested in exploiting this herb for profit, there is no other reason for this.

  26. Audrey at 4:45 pm

    Kratom is NOT a drug!!! Not until the DEA makes it one!! It’s all natural. The Gov just wants control over it so they can make the money!! Another way to take out freedom away and try to control what we use to help stop pain and ailments. They would rather us take their POISON CHEMICAL FILLED DRUGS WITH HORRIBLE SIDE EFFECTS AND OR DEATH then a natural plant. Its not even a problem. THE PROBLEM IS THE ADDICTS WILL ABUSE ANYTHING!!! IF ADDICTS THOUGHT CHOCOLATE GETS THEM HIGH, THE DEA IS GONNA CLASSIFY IT A DRUG TOO!!! What is wrong with people!! The Gov just wants to control anything and everything that helps people so they can profit off of it. DEA YOU WANT TO HELP AMERICANS???? MAKE CIGARETTES AND ALCOHOL ILLEGAL. ITS POISON, ADDICTIVE AND KILLING US. HOW DO YOU PEOPLE SLEEP AT NIGHT???? SCREWING WITH ANYTHING GOOD FOR PEOPLE AND LEGALIZING POISON. YOU ARE EVIL!!

  27. Bob Schubring at 4:45 pm

    Thanks to Bill Clinton, “herbal supplements” can be advertised with language that’s deceptively similar to the words used by drug companies and doctors.

    Kratom…and thousands of other natural toxins…are foisted off on the public, with the false belief that every natural substance is 100% safe.

    That belief is pure hogwash.

    The remedy is to fix the law.

    Growers and packagers and retailers of wholesome, natural, organic foods and supplements, must admit that there exist diseases such as Allergy, that make their otherwise-wholsome natural organic problem, harmful to those people who have a disease that causes them a bad reaction to the wholsome natural organic product,

    If the Green Lobby would allow that fact to govern how their products are marketed, it would be simple to label every natural product, Kratom included, with information about animal and human tests (if any) that took place with the product, known effects, known adverse effects, and ways to relieve the adverse effects.

    There are no perfectly-safe substances anywhere in the known universe.

    Every food item that exists, can be misused in some way that causes harm.

    Never consuming food leads to certain death by starvation.

    The law must allow people to take risks to save their own lives. And the law must allow people to share information about substances that have helped some people or harmed other people or both helped and harmed the same people.

  28. Jasmin at 4:38 pm

    Thank you Nome. You are so totally right. Probably put some round up in our foods. Slowly but surely trying to kill the American race. Idiots!!!!!

  29. Tim Mason at 4:25 pm

    I bought some of this product last week. I got the Matrix brand Green Vein-Thai. 20 Capsules at 500mg each. about $13 dollars.
    I worked in Pharma for 25 years with a lot of my work in nutraceuticals Much of my work was with Nutraceuticals, plant alkaloids in particular. This product is as safe as any standardized garlic extract or Kava-Kava.
    It is only illegal in California because of prop 65. Any natural product, leaf, root, stem, etc may contain trace amounts of lead.
    I took one capsule three times a day. It was a relaxing experience. Nothing to rave about.
    It may or may not have reduced my pain slightly.
    By the way, the LD-50 for water is 6 liters. So, to much water can kill you as well.

  30. Doug at 4:23 pm

    The DEA is the most dangerous drug on the market and should be deemed a schedule 0 because of its deadly effects. These egotistical and arrogant assholes need to be stopped before they succeed in killing millions of pain sufferers. This is all Bull cr*p and just shows the need to vote all sitting representatives out of office and tell their replacements to get rid of the DEA.

  31. Dan at 4:19 pm

    It’s another way for complete control of US citizens. Kratom saved me from 16 years of opioid use for chronic pain. I use it responsibly as I did painkillers, yet I feel it saved my life. Maybe if the DEA council had chronic pain and went through a failed pain management program they would have a clue. Very sad

  32. jojordan at 4:10 pm

    This is the biggest bunch of bunk I have ever heard! I spent the afternoon contacting the DEA and my representatives. Unfortunately anyone who could answer my questions had left early. Or maybe they just didn’t want to talk about it. I let whoever was around know that I was po’d and wanted answers on how this could be happening. The CDC is sure putting out a lot of bunk these days but this one I’m not letting die! I have used Kratom for 10+ years and I have no intention on giving it up legal or not! I intend on informing them of that and if they want to arrest me they have my address.
    For anyone else that’s interested in saving this precious herb from this horrible fate I would get on the phone and make some noise. It’s election year and so they might just listen.

  33. Nome at 4:00 pm

    Kratom is not dangerous. Big Pharma needs to grow up and let Americans decide for themselves what is a hazard and what isn’t. After all they still sell roundup and GMOs