From Forbes By David Kroll: Users of the medicinal plant kratom are anxiously watching their calendars as Friday, September 30 approaches–the earliest date that the DEA will place two of the plant’s chemicals onto Schedule I of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. As reported extensively, this classification will effectively criminalize the sale and use of the plant as an herbal dietary supplement.
On one hand, the DEA’s position, supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is that the kratom chemicals are opioids and therefore subject to abuse and pose an imminent hazard to public safety. On the other hand, an estimated 5 million people in the U.S. use kratom medically to relieve pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD, and in recovery from dependence on alcohol or prescription opioids. Over 134,000 people have signed a petition to the White House to override the DEA’s intent to ban these kratom chemicals.
Nick Wing at The Huffington Post reported Monday that and 51 U.S. congressional representatives–including 21 Republicans–have formally petitioned DEA acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay placement of the kratom chemicals onto Schedule I, provide ample time for public comment, and “resolve any inconsistencies with other Federal Agencies regarding the use of kratom.”
In the letter, drafted by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.-2nd) and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.-5th), the focus was specifically on the potential for kratom to treat opioid addiction, a medical use that counters the contention by DEA and FDA that kratom or its chemicals have no known medical use.
The letter cites the work of Christopher R. McCurdy, PhD, at the University of Mississippi and Edward W. Boyer, MD at the University of Massachusetts and their work to investigate how kratom is used as a painkiller substitute for strong opioids and in recovery from opioid dependence.