DEA Intends to Make Kratom a Schedule I Controlled Substance

SEPTEMBER 08, 2016
Krystle Vermes
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is planning to place the active materials of the kratom plant under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in an effort to prevent a hazard to public safety.

Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are both found in kratom, a tropical tree that grows in areas of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar.

Kratom is abused to produce opioid-like effects, and it is often marketed as a legal alternative to controlled substances. US law enforcement has seized more kratom nationwide in the first half of 2016 than it has in any other previous year. Recently, more than 100 cases of products containing kratom were seized in California.

Back in January 2016, the FDA discovered that Nature Therapeutics had been marketing kratom products under the brand name Kratom Therapy. The agency also discovered that the items were being sold as cures for various illnesses, according to the company’s website and social media profiles. The products that the FDA seized were worth approximately $150,000.

Until this point, the DEA has only classified kratom as a Drug of Concern, meaning it is not a controlled substance but has potential for abuse. However, kratom has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Those 3 factors constitute a Schedule I controlled substance, according to the CSA.

The FDA previously warned the public not to use any products labeled as containing kratom due to concerns about toxicity and potential adverse effects. In addition, FDA has issued and updated 2 import alerts related to kratom products. 

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