Regulars and Shorts

Another Kratom Update

By Alice Toler

Kratom advocates oppose ban and garner support from 51 Congressional members Sen. Hatch; DEA blinks.

After a petition reached over 140,000 signatures in less than a month and three “Dear Colleague” letters to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) circulated in Congress, the agency backed down on its emergency plan to place the herbal supplement kratom into Schedule I on September 30 this year.

Opposition to the ban has strong bipartisan support. Republican Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona and Democratic Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin co-authored the original “Dear Colleague” letter in the House of Representatives. Fifty-one members signed that letter, from both sides of the aisle. Additionally, Utah’s own Orrin Hatch penned his own letter, signed by eight other senators, and a third letter drafted by New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker garnered three signatures.

Congress voiced concern about the speed of the proposed ban, and particularly the lack of time for public comment, given that kratom appears to be being safely used by hundreds of thousands of Americans to treat everything from chronic pain, to PTSD, to opioid withdrawals. “Given the long reported history of kratom use, coupled with the public’s sentiment that it is a safe alternative to prescription opioids we believe using the regular review process would provide for a much-needed discussion among all stakeholders,” wrote Senator Hatch. The letter also called for “sufficient time for the DEA to outline its evidentiary standards to Congress regarding the justification for this proposed action.”

American kratom users are off the hook…for now…but the DEA states that it still intends to enact the ban at some point.

A list of members of Congress who signed the letters is available here:

This article was originally published on October 5, 2016.