The United States Drug Enforcement Agency filed a notice of intent to place Kratom on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act on August 31. Mitragyna speciosa, the plant known as Kratom, and its two active alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, will be illegal beginning September 30.
Relatively unknown drugs like Kratom, according to the DEA, are guilty until proven innocent. “Temporary scheduling has been utilized quite a bit, particularly as the many designer synthetic drugs have made their way from China and other parts of the world so this is not uncommon,” DEA spokesman Lawrence Payne told Gizmodo. “This gives us up to three years to research whether something should be permanently controlled or whether it should revert back to non-controlled status.”
Kratom is heroin's natural, non-toxic cousin. “Kratom is considered minimally toxic,” wrote researchers in The International Journal of Legal Medicine. Kratom's unique painkiller properties could be useful as a new type of painkiller. Being a low toxic opioid, Kratom could help wipe out heroin and painkiller addiction. The alkaloids produced by Kratom affect us with the same mechanism as traditional opioids. Its alkaloids bind to the mu opioid receptor in the brain. Because of this, Kratom tolerance builds quickly and higher and higher doses are required to achieve the same effect. Kratom causes a psychological dependence, minus the excessive overdoses.
The DEA cites 30 known Kratom-related deaths in its recorded history. Compare that to prescription painkillers, which kill an average of 52 people daily. The CDC recently reported that poison control centers received 660 Kratom-related calls between 2010 and 2015. Compare that to calls they received over E-cigarettes. Between January 2012 and April 2015, poison control centers received 29,141 calls involving e-cigarettes. Which drug makes you feel safer?
Kratom isn't exactly a threat to the people of the United States. As everyone knows, the DEA hasn't been successful in the past at curbing illicit drug use by simply banning drugs on a federal level. Kratom use, on a worldwide level, will flourish whether it's legal or not.