The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has decided to reverse its decision to place the herb kratom on the Schedule I list of prohibited substances.
On August 31, 2016 the DEA announced the plant would be temporarily placed on the most restricted category of drugs, placing it on par with LSD, heroin and other mind altering substances.
However, due to a public outcry both on the Internet and with in person demonstrations at various official buildings, the DEA has decided to grant kratom a reprieve until December 1, 2016.
The DEA was concerned over the unregulated nature of the plant, which can have side effects similar to opioids. At present, kratom can be bought and sold to anyone without any medical supervision. This includes gyms and other venues unlicensed to sell medication.
However, they have decided to open up the use of the plant for both research and discussion.
Until December 1, they will be collecting data in the form of anecdotes from regular kratom users, in addition to asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expedite scientific research into the drug.
DEA acting administrator, Chuck Rosenberg, wrote of the change of heart:
“DEA has received numerous comments from members of the public challenging the scheduling action. and requesting that the agency consider those comments and accompanying information before taking further action.”
Kratom users are rejoicing in the news, as many have stated that they have been able to curb their addiction to opioids, street drugs or alcohol thanks to kratom.
Because the public has been so vocal about its benefits, scientists became concerned that they would not be able to verify the claims if it became a Schedule I substance. Making the drug illegal puts major roadblocks in scientists’ ability to study the effects of the drug.
After December 1, the DEA could decide to place kratom temporarily on the Schedule I list, like it originally planned. It could also place the drug in a schedule of the Controlled Substances Act, which would mean that the public and scientists would have further time to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of widespread use of the plant.
Or, the drug could continue use unregulated as it has been previously.
Susan Ash of the American Kratom Association stated:
“I am in tears. Our voices are being heard, but we still have a long road ahead of us.”