The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is withdrawing the notice of intent issued to place two active ingredients present in kratom plant under Schedule I substances.
On Aug. 30, the DEA announced that mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which are present in Mitragyna speciosa (kratom) leaves, were to be classified as Schedule 1 substances starting Sept. 30. A number of kratom users and researchers have expressed disappointment following the announcement.
As per the classification, selling or possessing the kratom plant, which is indigenous to Southeast Asia, in any form in the country is illegal just like marijuana, peyote and heroin. However, it looks like the DEA has withdrawn its decision and has opened a public comment period, which would last up to Dec. 1.
The DEA has encouraged people to share their views on the medicinal benefits of kratom and has also noted that deliberate consideration will be given to public comments while deciding on the issue. The agency has also requested the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to accelerate its researches on the kratom plant.
Russ Baer, the DEA spokesman said that the agency has received around 2,000 calls since August, from people opposing the idea of classifying kratom as a Schedule 1 substance.
"So in a spirit of transparency, and to open this up to public dialogue, we withdrew our notice to temporarily schedule kratom," Baer said, reported NPR. "We will then give full consideration to those comments before we move forward with any action."
Susan Ash, the head of the American Kratom Association consumer group, thanked the DEA for listening to tens of thousands of kratom users and researchers on this issue. Ash also noted that there is probably no need for scheduling kratom since it has been used safely in the country for decades and around the world for centuries.
The medicinal plant was used by people in the United States for its opioid-like effect, which is believed to treat chronic pain. It is available in smoke shops in the country in both capsule and powder form. Kratom was used in Asia for centuries where people chewed or brewed and consumed it as a tonic to treat severe pain as well as to recover from opium addiction.
While kratom is also used by people in the United States for recovering from opioid addiction, the statistics also has it that 15 people have lost their lives between 2014 and 2016 of kratom use. However, it is to be noted that 14 out of 15 people had taken other drugs in addition to kratom.