The herbal supplement kratom will be banned from drugstore shelves effective October 1, 2016, as the Drug Enforcement Administration is placing the active materials of the plant under Schedule I
of the Controlled Substances Act.
Kratom is a botanical related to the coffee plant. It contains an alkaloid that’s a weak agonist of the mu opioid receptor. Higher doses can cause mild euphoria, dizziness, and nausea. Kratom coadministered with other drugs has been associated with 14 deaths.
Currently, most kratom users take it to relieve pain or anxiety. Some also use it to relieve withdrawal symptoms from traditional opiates. The opioid-like effects of kratom are limited because its alkaloids are only partial agonists of the mu receptor and adopt a binding pose distinctly different from conventional opioids’. There’s evidence that kratom itself may have addictive properties, but it’s thought to be less habit-forming than traditional opiates.
Kratom is usually consumed as a tea or powder mixed with water. In some cases, it’s prepackaged with flavoring or put into capsules. The supplement’s popularity has markedly increased in the last several years.
Several US states have already considered regulating kratom. Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennesse have banned kratom and its active constituents, while New Hampshire passed a law preventing minors from purchasing it. Restrictions were also proposed in Florida, but they were put on hold after an in-depth analysis concluded that the supplement didn’t pose a significant risk to public safety.
It’s important that pharmacies remove all kratom products from their shelves before the ban takes effect October 1, 2016, because possession of a Schedule I controlled substance is a serious offense that can result in incarceration and loss of license.