From The Washington Post:
The Drug Enforcement Administration has received a torrent of backlash from chronic pain patients and former opiate users after announcing plans to ban kratom, a plant gaining popularity across the U.S. for its opiate-like effects.
Kratom, which originates in Southeast Asia, has become more widespread in the U.S. in the past decade, fueled by online testimonials from the drug’s users and a lack of federal regulation. Advocates say the plant — which users typically crush and mix or brew with water – poses few health risks and helps users relieve severe pain and overcome addictions to powerful prescription painkillers.
A DEA spokesman told The Post that the agency has received a surprising amount of comments about the ban and could consider easing the restrictions after further research.
The Food and Drug Administration began seizing some kratom shipments from overseas in 2014. This summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that annual calls to poison control centers related to kratom use jumped from 26 in 2010 to 263 in 2015. States have been quietly banning the substance: Alabama and Arkansas outlawed it earlier this year, joining four others – Alabama, Wisconsin, Vermont and Tennessee, according to the American Kratom Association.
The DEA recently announced a temporary federal ban on kratom beginning Sept. 30. The active chemicals in the plant will be placed on schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, the most restrictive regulatory category, designated for substances with no medical use and a high potential for abuse.
“The placement of these opioids into schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety,” the DEA wrote in the Federal Register. The agency’s notice cited reports of 15 deaths linked to, though not necessarily attributable to, kratom use between 2014 and 2016.
The ban would automatically sunset after two …