DEA Delays Kratom Ban

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has not taken action to make the herbal supplement kratom as schedule I drug, despite previously announcing its intention to do so by September 30.  The delay comes as some members of Congress, as well as kratom users and researchers, have grown increasingly vociferous over the notion that the DEA would make kratom a schedule I substance, in the same class as heroin and marijuana, without allowing any public input.

In late August, the agency said it would place kratom's active ingredients ― the opioids mitragynine and 7hydroxymitragynine ― on Schedule I within 30 days, but did not invite public comment, as is typically done with federal regulation notices.  The scheduling has not occurred yet but is still on track, DEA spokesman Russ Baer told Medscape Medical News.  "We've consistently said to anyone that has asked that it could be September 30 or sometime thereafter," said Baer. "We're in that 'sometime thereafter' stage."

Baer would not say whether the agency is going to allow any public input. But Susan Ash, founder and director of the American Kratom Association (AKA), told Medscape Medical News that a congressional ally, Rep. Mark Pocan (DWisc), has indicated that the DEA will now seek public comment.  The DEA is under pressure from Congress to reconsider making kratom a schedule I substance. Fifty-one members of the House sent letters to the DEA's acting administrator and to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget on September 26 stating that the action may be illegal and that it could stop much needed research.

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