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After announcing that the herbal supplement kratom would be made as illegal as heroin, the Drug Enforcement Administration is now reconsidering its decision, a US official familiar with the process told STAT on Wednesday morning.

In late August, the DEA announced that it would ban the substance for two or three years, a step that it could take unilaterally in a case it deems to be a “public health crisis.”

Kratom is a plant from Southeast Asia often used to self-treat opioid withdrawal, chronic pain, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In making its decision, the DEA pointed to an increase in the number of calls to poison control centers related to kratom as a justification for acting swiftly, without seeking input from other government agencies — and with no opportunity for public comment.

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Now, however, after protests in front of the White House, a petition that garnered more than 130,000 signatures, and criticism from members of Congress, the DEA is reconsidering.

The ban could have taken effect as early as Sept. 30, but a DEA spokesman said that the order had not yet been signed. He could not say when it might be signed.

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But an official familiar with the decision said that DEA was now considering instituting a period of public comment, or taking the more traditional approach to banning drugs, a process that involves both public input and detailed consultations with the Food and Drug Administration to determine whether the substance is in fact a health threat.

That could significantly delay the ban — or potentially lead to the reversal of the decision entirely.

Representative Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, who spearheaded a protest letter signed by several dozen lawmakers, spoke to the acting administrator of the DEA on Friday. “Since they didn’t initially go through the proper protocol for this procedure, now they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to implement some sort of public comment period,” said a spokesperson from Pocan’s office.

The DEA, however, has made no public comment to that effect, and in September, a spokesman told STAT the ban would take effect soon.

Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, spearheaded a similar bipartisan letter signed by eight other senators. His office specified that Hatch is not “pro-kratom,” but that he wanted to make sure that the DEA was not overstepping its bounds.

Given the outcry from thousands of kratom users — many of whom claim that the substance has saved them from addiction — a public comment period could potentially shift the federal government’s view on the plant. Researchers have also spoken out against the ban, saying that this will hamper lab work that might lead to new treatments for opioid addiction and chronic pain.

  • I’ve been a chronic pain sufferer since a drunk driver hit me and broke my back, hips and foot. I also have had severe neck pain from herniated discs in my neck. I was on everything from Methadone to 80 mg OxyContin. Nothing I took helped or diminished my excruciating pain. I couldn’t sleep and my life was in a downward spiral. A friend recommended Kratom as an alternative to Opiods. I researched and read every article I could before trying Kratom. I obtained and tried a very small amount of it, not wanting to take any chances. With as little as a 1/2 teaspoon I have been pain free and am able to finally sleep. I have not experienced any of the side effects or dependence I’ve had with Opiates. I am able to live again, and enjoying pain free sleep. I wish the government would reconsider Kratom and its benefits. I’m living testimony to its medical benefits

  • I wish people were making a big deal about methadone now that is a very bad legal drug that is man made and killing 100,000s of people but no one has stood up to ban a real legal drug that is popping up in your neighborhood through clandestine clinics because the population is infected by the prescription pills being handed out in large quantities daily legally and when there looking to quit, most addicts seek a way to ween down and end up on methadone or suboxone which is a worse addiction than what they were previously on

    • Brian Kratom-Because it all comes down to money. That’s what the FDA and DEA are trying to do to Kratom . Make it illegal so the drug companies can synthesize the chemical in the tree, add a few more chemicals and now they can sell it back to the people at 200% or more markup. After the drug companies put their chemical spin on it their will be disease and ailments as a result. Then they get a bonus. Now they can sell you something that’ll treat those problems. Its a win, win for them. After they make it a prescribeable medication they can charge you outrageous prices for a tree leaf that runs anywhere from $10-$13 for 25 grams pre-ban. And if the public finds another option if they go through with the ban that works the powers that be will move on that too. All that will happen is people will resort back to whatever options that they can get. Probably street drugs for those that are addicts and opiates for those that use prescribed meds for ailments. The FDA and the DEA does not care about your quality of life. Only the quantity in their pockets.

  • I’m so glad the ban hasn’t taken effect. I have fibromyalgia, RA, lupus, ptsd, and am ex heroine addict. I was so scared for my life using heroine I am allergic to methodone suboxone and subutexe. I tried so many different times to quit but doing it on my own wasn’t an option. I can honestly say Kratom has saved my life. I’m clean now. I have no pain. And along the line I lost my love Alex to heroine. It’s heart breaking but I’m still here thanks to Kratom and I’m not scared. I know I would still be an active addict or I would be dead by suicide, I’m so happy to have this herbal tea that has helped in so many ways other than just detoxing. I am so happy that it got held up and so many people have stood there ground and let there voice be heard!!

  • The deal should ban kratom! All past drug and alcohol abusers seem to be using it for the replacement of there additions.

  • Well, I’ve been thinking for a while about this. And really no matter what stance you take in life, if you believe in evolution or if you believe in God. It doesn’t matter if you think the world is made of goat cheese. Before man decided to take off with all his inventions, this world all worked in harmony, sustainably. Everything worked really well, and either a creator created them to be at peace, or they evolved to be in the most evolved position, and accomplished longevity. So no matter what, these plants are natural, and clearly they belong on this earth. By outlawing a plant you are essentially committing genocide for the species. So when people preserve the plants and an eventual, and grossly predictable, war breaks out and violence occurs over something simple like growing a plant, can you really blame the soul that preserved it. He is keeping it from literally going extinct.

    But hey, that’s just my opinion.

    Take it or leave it,
    Thanks

  • My first experience with kratom was one I will always remember. When I was 19 I went through a traumatic experience that led to me attempting to take my own life, after the incident I struggled heavily with anxiety attacks and panic attacks. Eventually I decided to take meds for both and the meds made me sleepwalk and become even more depressed. I struggled with self medicating with whatever I could find including alcohol. Eventually I got tired of being “that” person and decided to look online for help, one day I came across kratom and decided I’d give it a try. The strain I started with was a green vein Bali and a red vein Borneo. On the first night I took it I slept like a king with no anxiety and no body irritations. I didn’t sleep like that for years until I tried kratom, when I woke up I had no hangover feeling. I felt good. I felt normal and okay. That experience meant the world to me because I was running out of hope and running out of a will to fight. It’s been almost 5 years now and although kratom is still in my life it’s never abused and I have history of abuse so if it was addictive that doesn’t add up. I’ve saved lives by showing people kratom. I’ve watched hardcore drug users fall in love with life again by giving kratom a try and no it’s not because they’re high off kratom. Drugs like xanex only help by taking your mind away from your problems until you don’t have anymore of that drug and all your problems are piled up causing you to stress even more then you originally are while natural medicines like kratom give you a clear head to help you face your problems head on and solve them. Not sure if that makes sense on paper like it does in my head but basically what I’m trying to say is kratom doesn’t deserve a ban. 2 nights ago marijuana was legalized and I can go up the street (if I had a card for it) and buy marijuana from a store so give me one good reason why kratom should be illegal when it’s non addictive, it’s saved thousands of lives, it doesn’t impair you, it helps people beat addiction, it helps anxiety, it helps pain and it promotes energy and a better and healthier sleep schedule? If anything please don’t make kratom a schedule 1. That would not only put thousands of lives at risk it would also put thousands of vendors out of work when all they’re trying to do is save lives and make a change in this world. If you have to make it so kratom requires a card like marijuana does then so be it but don’t take something away that has absolutely no history of causing harm. The only 2 reported deaths from kratom were of people who mixed kratom with other drugs that can cause death alone. Can you say that for alcohol or prescription pills? No, you can’t. I just worked for 13 hours straight so please don’t mind my grammar. Thanks for reading my comment and if you believe in kratom like I do, please comment with your story so this is seen by people who know nothing about kratom but want it banned like the woman a few comments above me.

    • I agree with everything you just said Anthony….The point you made about the supposed Kratom deaths(which is really tied to something else that was taken). I would really like to know the complete toxicology report. All we have is word of mouth and nothing substantial. Who’s to say that that individual didn’t have tainted dreen peas and that is what caused the death? Or that the person suffered from alcoholism and decided to try Kratom to help overcome their addiction and it so coincidentally happens that that was the day their body couldn’t take the abuse of one more drink and gave up?? Which coincided with them taking Kratom at the same time?? So some nitwit with an agenda pokes around and says, “Hmm, let’s see what is in this persons system”. “Ahh, this is something I know nothing about”. “It must be because of this plant”. Because as everyone knows the food chain in this country is pure and without fault????? Here is just one link: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/salads-served-at-olive-garden-red-lobster-tied-to-cyclospora-outbreak-in-2-states-fda-says/ . I’ll say it again…. Show the public the toxicology reports of these individual deaths and let everyone decided for themselves. This country’s tactic of disinformation has gone on for generations to support hidden agendas that are never good for the American people. I hope that the newly elected President Trump will sort through this nonsense of past generations of garbage. So that my generation can have a fruitful life like the past generations have had, and abused. But that is another topic for discussion on another siteand venue. Thanks and lets here more stories of Kratom users. The courageous ones who have overcome obstacles are the ones I admire the most.

  • Please put a ban on kratom asap. Do not believe those who say its harmless. Like caffine. Its so not true. It can and does make people with a high tolerence to it go mad if they cant get it. It changes their personality puts them into feeling pain if they try to quit. Its very costly and very dangerous because no one knows what the people selling it are putting into it. Please please please ban all kratom immediately. Its the absolute worst. Read all the statements from those who have tried to quit numerous times. Its garbage that people are getting hooked on. Do the real research.

    • I’m wondering what it is that you have at stake that makes you tell these lies. Anyone with any real experience with kratom KNOWS that everything you said here is a line of BS. The way your narrative reads, you have no personal experience. You sound like you are obediently reciting someone else’s party line. Either that, or you are speaking from pure ignorance.
      How about providing some legitimate citations to support your comments? Oh, can’t do it because you just made it up?
      Either way, what’s your agenda, kat? Are you a lobbyisist for Big Pharma? What’s your payoff for this?

    • Hey Steve, I think Kat is confused… Sounds like she is describing bath salts which is nothing like Kratom. If Kat knew anything the difference being Bath Salts are a chemical compound that people were snorting a few years ago. While Kratom is a tree where the leaves are pulverized to make powder just like ginger root capsules. Futher more the only thing that ever happened when I took more than my 5 gram dosage was relax like taking Valerian root. So whatever Kat is talking about is unclear to me. Probably unclear to him/her too. The only reason people would listen to unsupported nonsense like what Kat is saying are the ones who’s agenda that unintelligence comments support. Lastly, do you know what is put into your milk that you purchase from the store Kat? Do you know that Red #5 food coloring and similar causes cancer? And that is added to your foodstuffs?

  • Banning kratom would be a huge mistake. In the middle of an opioid crisis, the last thing we need to do is ban a harmless leaf that saves lives. Kratom is not, I repeat, NOT a danger to anyone’s safety. Kratom is about as addictive as caffeine, but safer! Please dont let fear mongering lead you to group kratom in with synthetics and other legal highs. Big pharma is afraid that kratom will cut into there profits because kratom is a better, cheaper, and safer natural alternative to many harmful medications they sell. Keep kratom legal!

  • I was on a synthetic opioid called fentynal I got really bad off on it. My friend started using a needle and I refused to use a needle it always scared me to think about it. One night my friend was shooting it up and he was using the normal amount that he always had done but the batch he got must of been alot stronger because he overdosed I was there when it happened and everyone left him but me I was the only one that stayed to make sure he was okay when the medics arrived. When I saw him OD I instantly wanted nothing to do with that drug but I couldn’t quit taking it because the withdrawals’ were so severe. But someone told me about kratom and that it helped the withdraws so I decided to give it a try I started taking kratom and that’s the only thing I took no other drugs added strictly kratom and it worked for me I ended up flushing the fentynal a week later and I have yet to pick it back up. Keaton helped and is still helping me stay out of that very dark life I had when I was addicted to opiates. When I heard that kratom was going to be a schedule 1 narcotic I became very worried that when it is gone that ill go back to fentynal and I’m afraid that ill over due it one day because that drug is extremely harsh… I’ve done alot of research on kratom and I’ve also quit taking kratom for 9 days and the withdrawal from it (if there even was withdrawal) then it was so small that I couldn’t even tell. I have really bad migraines and that’s how I became addicted to pain killers but when I get a migraine I take kratom and it helps the migraine and allows me to relax and get a little sleep. It also helps with my anxiety tremendously. I will really hate to see it be illegal. I went from stealing from the people I love when I was on fentynal to buying kratom and I haven’t stolen anything since. Keaton has saved my life in many different aspects. Please consider keeping this product available to the public because I know if it saved my life then It can save many many more

  • After going to a few headshops and purchasing from online vendors the variety of kratom offered in pill form, I have found no significant help from it in terms of pain relieving. I wouldn’t say I have a high tolerance as I’ve only been on opiates since Dec. 2015 until present Oct. 2016 on and off, the greatest period between end of Dec. to end of Feb. The highest dose I took was about 10 grams of red bornea. It did nothing for my pain nor had any relaxing effect. I only wanted to use it as an alternative to opiates but received no significant effects. Then again, I say the samething about the 20 mg a day zohydro er I’m on. With the allowance of 1.5 10/325 norco I’m allowed in between. Of course I do more than what I’m supposed to because I refuse to be crippled by the pain of four herniated discs crushing my nerves. I need a new doctor. Anyways, kratom did seem to have some effect on my friend who is straight edge, never done a darn thing. But it didn’t hit til 6 hours after so I’m skeptical whether it was plain old tiredness or brought on by kratom.

    • I don’t guess my Opinion doesn’t matters or what I have been through in my life I have MS I also have lupus along with many other issues with my bones and joints. a few weeks ago a friend of mine because she knew that for years she was feeling better mentally and physically and knew that There was talks of banning she sorta got her a small stock pile because like me she was tired of the pills and doctors. I was on four roxicodones and 2 opanas ERs a day and after four years they just wanted to make the drugs even stronger on me anyways she thought there would be a ban on them and she had bought up a little stockpile because of her situation she is like me tired of the pain killers and they’re not helping and we don’t want to be zombies or be found dead one day from accidental overdose to make a long story short I took it twice and it has helped I was amazed to know that that there was a natural product that was beneficial and helped me but the government doesn’t care and will never care one day they’ll look back and realize that they have created a country that are nothing but zombies and Addiction we are not a free country where we are supposed to have the right to do what is best for us with conditions that herbal natural products that God himself allowed to grow naturally. The Funny thing is I only wish I had known about this much sooner than I did and guess what I wasn’t high as a kite now I don’t know what to do because this is probably my only chance to get off dangerous meds that did cause mood swings and other conditions I don’t care to discuss thanks to all who are fighting for people like me

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