After massive public outcry, the DEA is reversing its plan to place kratom on the schedule 1 substances list. Kratom, a tree from southern Asia that has been used as a painkiller or stimulant for centuries, is not currently illegal in the United States. The DEA moved to put kratom on the Schedule 1 list--which would prohibit any scientific research on the substance--upsetting people who claim that the drug has helped them to stay off of opioid painkillers.
The DEA decided to put kratom on the schedule 1 after several people died with kratom in their systems. However, it cannot be discerned if the deaths were actually caused by kratom or if another drug was the culprit.
Now, the agency is claiming that "more research" needs to be done before the drug can be banned--if it will be banned at all.
Citing the public outcry and a need to obtain more research, the DEA is withdrawing its notice of intent to ban the drug, according to a preliminary document that will be posted to the Federal Register Thursday.
The DEA had announced in August that it planned to place kratom in schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, the most restrictive regulatory category, as soon as Sept. 30. But since announcing their intent to ban kratom, the "DEA has received numerous comments from members of the public challenging the scheduling action," acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg wrote in the notice, "and requesting that the agency consider those comments and accompanying information before taking further action."
A bipartisan group of legislators slammed the DEA for its decision to ban kratom, calling the decision "hasty" and unnecessary.
The DEA will now have until Dec. 1 to decide whether or not to ban kratom or simply leave it as is.