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DEA Declares War on Kratom

Mitragyna speciosa (kratom) / Getty Images

Last month, when the DEA dashed activist hopes for a rescheduling of cannabis, it also issued another lesser-noted decision—to put the psychoactive herb kratom in the same Schedule I classification as pot, that for the most dangerous drugs with no medical use. Advocates have launched a White House petition against the kratom ban, and have already won the required 100,000 signatures to trigger an administration reponse. The DEA decision takes effect on Sept. 30, while the White House has 60 days to respond to the petition, under its own policy.

The DEA press release on the decision says kratom has a “high potential for abuse,” and claims there have been 15 “kratom-related deaths” in the US over the past two years. But this is questioned by researchers, who want to be able to continue their research. Kratom is not used recreationally, but largely as an aid to those seeking to break heroin or opioid addictions. Therefore, it is likely that other factors could have been involved in the deaths attributed to kratom.

“We do not know what the actual health impact is of kratom in the United States,” Oliver Grundmann, a toxicologist at the University of Florida, told the health news website STAT. “The profile of those who are using kratom is not the usual profile of illicit drug users or those who seek the high… of a drug.”

Researchers agree that kratom, long used medicinally in Southeast Asia, poses some risks—including seizures, addiction, and possibly death. But they believe that if a responsible treatment for opioid addiction is found using the herb, it could ultimately save lives.

Meanwhile, addicts could continue to self-treat with kratom without medical oversight. As usual, the prohibitionist response seems counter-productive. We’ll be watching to see how the White House acts.

READ  Canadian Police Chiefs Call For Decriminalization Of Low-Level Drug Possession
Bill Weinberg
Written By

Bill Weinberg is based in New York City.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Andre Anderson

    September 9, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Wow!~ Interesting! Also check this- My first experience of eating edibles and smoking Bubba Kush medical marijuana strain https://cannasos.com/news/stories/my-first-experience-of-eating-edibles-and-smoking-bubba-kush-medical-marijuana-strain

  2. Avatar

    watts

    September 9, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, diabetes,asthma, crohn’s disease, gout, pain relief, glaucoma, opioid dependence, epilepsy, psoriasis, anorexia, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, pain, migraines, dravet syndrome, doose syndrome, multiple sclerosis and many more HIT ME # Text…2102013745
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    • Avatar

      Benito Camela

      September 12, 2016 at 11:45 am

      Stock photo. Fake.

  3. Avatar

    Kenshin Himura

    September 10, 2016 at 10:32 am

    fucking ignorant government thinking they can actually stop people from growing what they want. So ignorant, lmfao.

    • Avatar

      NavyATFP

      September 10, 2016 at 11:31 am

      Sadly Kratom isnt grown in the US, it takes a tree around 50 years to be mature enough to produce the leaves that are used. If they place a ban then it will choke off the supply many take for so many issues. Its very sad and a stupid move on the part of Chuck Rosenberg and the DEA.

      • Avatar

        DB Calan

        September 11, 2016 at 3:51 am

        I agree with most of your comment but the active alkaloids in the kratom leaf are present from a young age– within one year. I had a friend with a young kratom tree that starting producing leaves for the first two years but was eventually killed by spider mites. During that time, the leaves produced an excellent medicinal product– much better than the dried, de-stemmed, micronized products found on the market.

        • Avatar

          NavyATFP

          September 11, 2016 at 4:48 am

          Thats kind of the point, a 1 year old tree isnt likely able to even produce enough leaves for one persons use is it? Thanks for the correction though.

  4. Avatar

    Shannon Scatolini

    September 10, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Wow thank you high times for putting a highlight on this! I am a consumer of kratom for over 10 years. It completely change my life and now they want to take it away for me and make me a pill chaser or just suffer in chronic pain for the rest of my life. Ughhhhhh! In the year 2016 we should not be banning plants we should be legalizing them ! #Iamkratom #keepkratomlegal #kratomsavedme #stopbanningplants #stopthekratomban

  5. Avatar

    Red_Baran

    September 10, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Please at least sign the petition. #IamKratom #KratomSavesLives

  6. Avatar

    jessi smith

    September 10, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    This is so stupid. Kratom has helped so may people! Including myself. I was on adderall for years and the last couple years I was on it it got really bad. I was taking 2x the amount I was prescribed and it eventually fried my brain. I still have some issues with being tired for no reason and problems with my thought process. I found Kratom and have never felt better. I can feel it helping the way I think and it gives me a boost of energy that nothing else can. But it’s not a crazy kind of energy.. I just feel normal. And that’s all I want to feel, normal. Kratom is supposed to help rebuild the damaged receptors in your brain and it is definitely working. It also helps my depression and anxiety! I really hope we can get through to them. This is going to be ridiculously bad for a LOT of people that are trying to lead normal lives. I dread seeing what the ban will do……

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    onlineweedstore

    September 10, 2016 at 3:23 pm

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  8. Avatar

    Charles B

    September 10, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    I’m so angry and sad about this. Kratom has helped me with my struggles with several mental illnesses and drinking problem. Big pharma meds are awful with terrible side effects and I got off all of them when I discovered Kratom. Big pharma and their money continues to decide what we can and cannot put into our bodies and it’s a joke. I’m scared to death what’s gonna happen to my health when I run out just like everyone else is. It’s very sad.

  9. Avatar

    TOPDOG1

    September 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    States don’t need the D.E.A.or F.D.A. These groups with their secret courts and loyalty purges have become a haven and stronghold used to fund their Authoritarian police regime along with their greedy puppets placed in political office.You don’t need them, I don’t need them. Nobody needs the D.E.A. and F.D.A..Nor these and the other gangs of Federal and state drug enforcement thugs. we do not need them. Their foul nest needs to be cleaned out and the entire area fumigated. Marijuana and pain medication are just the tip of the iceberg of hundreds of examples of their incompetence and abuse of power. Instead of using these positions to aid and protect the world citizen, they are using them as a base and stronghold to fund and build their Authoritarian regime.The way to control the drug problem is to get the D.E.A., The F.D.A. and the other law and order thugs out of the picture. It is they who have created and manufactured the problems.Other country’s that allow its citizens access to pain medications and marijuana have no serious drug problem. It is these law enforcement Authoritarians and their political puppets along with law enforcement thugs who are using drugs as an excuse to wage war on the American Citizen and especially as an excuse to strip away everyone’s Civil and Human liberty’s. These renegade law enforcement groups are striping and plundering, bilking the social grant funding resources like a pack of hounds through a garbage can..All;to fund their drug war against everyone except themselves. Hundreds of millions of dollars, billions nationwide. This plundering and pilfering from the grant system and robbery of Americans must stop.
    States don’t need the D.E.A.or F.D.A. These groups with their secret courts and loyalty purges have become a haven and stronghold used to fund their Authoritarian police regime and their greedy puppets placed in political office.You don’t need them, I don’t need them. Nobody needs the D.E.A. and F.D.A..Nor these and the other gangs of Federal and state drug enforcement thugs. wE DON’T NEED THEM. Their foul nest needs to be cleaned out and the entire area fumigated. Marijuana and pain medication are just the tip of the iceberg of hundreds of examples of their incompetence and abuse of power. Instead of using these positions to aid and protect the world citizen, they are using them as a base and stronghold to fund their Authoritarian regime.The way to control the drug problem is to get the D.E.A., The F.D.A. and the other law enforcement thugs out of the picture. It is they who have created and manufactured the problems.Other country’s that allow its citizens access to pain medications and marijuana have no serious drug problem. It is these law enforcement Authoritarians and their political puppets along with law enforcement thugs who are using drugs as an excuse to wage war on the American Citizen and especially as an excuse to strip away everyone’s Civil and Human liberty’s. These renegade law enforcement groups are striping and plundering, bilking the social grant funding resources like a pack of hounds in a garbage can..All;to fund their drug war against everyone except themselves. Hundreds of millions of dollars, billions nationwide. This plundering and pilfering from the grant system and robbery of Americans must stop

    • Avatar

      DastardlyDave

      September 13, 2016 at 10:55 pm

      Well, they’re entrenched, they have lots of guns, flash-bombs and tanks, and they don’t want to. Since marijuana legalization is starting to get some traction, they’ve got to think ahead to assure continued employment for themselves, not to mention their responsibilities to their masters in Big Pharma.

      • Avatar

        TOPDOG1

        September 18, 2016 at 7:47 pm

        True, but what they don’t have is new and better ideas. The same old W.W.2. tactics are very thin and will soon fail. The same with all despots and tyrants persons or governments, their methods wear out and they, eventually fall. If they refuse to remove themselves, or reform, then they must be removed.

    • Avatar

      xxx

      September 18, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      Looking at your repeated comments against drug laws, the DEA, and FBI I can tell one thing about you and I don’t even know you. You have a CRIMINAL record, some of which is for narcotics. I’m right aren’t I;) 🙂

      • Avatar

        TOPDOG1

        September 18, 2016 at 6:35 pm

        It sure has been cut and pasted, re-written changed modified and translated into many languages in thousands of newspapers and media sources worldwide.. And hundreds more just like it. I do not buy your ex-drug cop view nor will I except any more pro drug war propaganda. As I can see you have been stalking me all about the (merely) one web comment site. site, now it is my turn. You are just like (most) all cop’s. no respect for anyone or anything. As you have made numerous personal insults to me, you must really be one f..king idiot. Still; I will be following you and your puny sixty comments. The D.E.A. sucks.

        • Avatar

          TOPDOG1

          September 18, 2016 at 6:44 pm

          PS # If you have a better idea lets hear it, If not STFU.

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    Andre Deion

    September 10, 2016 at 11:15 pm

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  11. Avatar

    John Tyler

    September 11, 2016 at 9:17 am

    I don’t think you should have added the part about researchers agreeing that kratom causes seizures and death. I’d like to see the proof that kratom alone causes either of those.

    • Avatar

      #IAMKRATOM

      September 12, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      please take this off, hightimes!

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    September 11, 2016 at 9:33 am

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    Tammie Wheeler

    September 11, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Kratom gave me back my life! They replaced 15 meds and painful injections with far superior results! I suffer from RSD, arthritis, depression, anxiety and PTSD. Kratom relieves my nerve pain like nothing else ever has and allows me to function again. I tried the pharmaceuticals and all they did were cause other problems and leave me like a zombie. With kratom, I’m not high or foggy headed from meds. It helps me manage my pain and other issues while being safe and non-toxic to my body. I have been using kratom over 2 1/2 years now and my overall health has even improved. I was able to regain my hope, which I’d lost with Big Pharma treatments. It’s a terrifying prospect of having to go back to that kind of pain and hopelessness again. I will never return to Big Pharma to manage my pain again. They are only interested in return customers, not our health. Taking away this safe, effective herb is a disgrace and the number of lives negatively impacted by banning it will be blood on Big Pharmas hands. #IAmKratom

  14. Avatar

    IBD Sufferer

    September 11, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    The petition has reached the minimum 100,000, but it needs more signatures please! Please sign and help us stop this step backward in drug policy and stop the DEA from continuing to ban natural plants that help so many people! https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/please-do-not-make-kratom-schedule-i-substance

  15. Avatar

    Joe Borski

    September 12, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Tomorrow, 8/13/2016, all across our country in all the major cities including Saint Pete and Washington DC., thousands of compassionate people will march in protest of the DEA’s impending ban on September 30 against KRATOM. If you can’t be to protest, here’s what you can do. http://www.americankratom.org/national_call_to_action
    #kratomsaves #kratomsaveslives #IAmKratom

  16. Avatar

    Matthew C Penn

    September 12, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Thank you for writing this story. I myself take Kratom. I’m a recovering heroin addict but that isn’t the reason I take Kratom. Through the years of my childhood I played hockey which has ruined my knees and lower back. Kratom helps alleviate enough of the pain to allow me to hold a job. I’ve lost over 50 lbs using kratom because I’ve become more active. I also take Kratom due to migraines which the Dr’s prescribed me break through medicine that tells me i have to lay in a dark room until the migraine passes. Well that could be days. Ever since I’ve started taking kratom I have not had one single migraine and it’s been over 2 years now. So technically it is a preventative of my migraines. Please sign the petition above in the story and confirm your email. Let’s keep this natural remedy legal and prevent 1,000’s of people from becoming felons. You never know who takes kratom, it could be your mother. Would you want your mother to possibly spent time in jail over a natural plant that was put on this planet to help not destroy? I’ll end it there and thank you again.

  17. Avatar

    Benito Camela

    September 12, 2016 at 11:34 am

    This is a poorly written article – rife with DEA and other prohibitionist terminology and falsehoods. For example:

    “Researchers agree that kratom, long used medicinally in Southeast Asia, poses some risks—including seizures, addiction, and possibly death.”

    Where is this “research” or are we simply using weasel words like Fox News and stating “some people say…”? Show me the research or edit your statement. Use of kratom leaf by healthy individuals, not combining kratom with any other substances has NEVER shown the risk for seizures or death. Coffee is addictive. So is sugar. What’s your point?

    Then there is the use of the term “psychoactive”….What exactly does this word imply? Is caffeine psychoactive? Chocolate? They all trigger the same receptors in the brain – but none of them exhibit properties commonly attributed to hallucinogens or other substances which change one’s perception of reality.

    I would have expected much better from High Times but unfortunately you guys are apparently one trick ponies – too high on your weed to do proper reporting on any other substance.

    • Avatar

      KenpoLove

      September 12, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      My thoughts exactly. Who the hell wrote this article, an imbecile? This article is almost as bad as the DEA’s version. Very irresponsible. Here are some facts: http://www.thecre.com/forum15/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/CRE-DEA-Kratom-1.pdf

      • Avatar

        Benito Camela

        September 12, 2016 at 6:29 pm

        Yes, clearly a total imbecile wrote this article. High Times just lost any credibility it had in discussing the War on (some) Drugs.

        The letter to the OMB is a great find. Where did you track it down?

  18. Avatar

    #IAMKRATOM

    September 12, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you high times! We are fighting this full force! Everyone check out the 2nd letter sent to the DEA by the national watchdog group CRE = http://www.thecre.com/forum11/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/CRE-DEA-Kratom-1.pdf

  19. Avatar

    Lorenzo Annielou

    September 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    omg is the first time i have read about this plant and the use it is given,,thanks!

  20. Avatar

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    September 12, 2016 at 2:39 pm

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    KenpoLove

    September 12, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Wow this article is really really bad. How about some real facts: http://www.thecre.com/forum15/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/CRE-DEA-Kratom-1.pdf

  22. Avatar

    Tim Tompkins

    September 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    The petition isn’t done. 100000 is just the requisite, sign that shit!
    I agree that you probably shouldn’t have put “possibly death” because I’ve never read about that. I’ve read about jaundice-like yellowing though VERY heavy use but not death. I do however wanna say thank you!

    I’m a pothead and very active in the reform efforts but the marijuana community has been super hypocritical through this. IT’S THE SAME THING THAT HAPPENED TO POT BUT THERE’S NO OUTCRY!

    That really pushes the point I’ve said for years – medical marijuana is mainly a front for decriminalization and eventually legalization. Some people use it as medicine…..SOME…but most of the long haired, beanie wearing, earth children who picketed and gathered signatures were nothing but a bunch of stoners acting selfishly.

    “It’s medicine…big pharm is bad”

    Yeah, so is this except it actually IS and it directly impacts big Pharm’s neverending cycle of prescribed addiction.

    Pot should be legal and I’ll continue to work for that but just because it’s on the horizon doesn’t mean we should allow the DEA to destroy every other legal alternative medicine.

  23. Avatar

    Christy Justus

    September 12, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Thank you for sharing but kratom has never been proven to cause death. It’s impossible to O.D on kratom. Your body will reject it if you take too much so I don’t believe it causes death. The deaths supposedly connected to kratom were in people who had taken other harmful drugs.

  24. Avatar

    Steve Bodi

    September 13, 2016 at 5:13 am

    Absolutely agree with you John, no proof
    that any of these deaths were attributed to Kratom, contributing factors would include other drugs in their system. There is a reason that we garnered over 100,000 votes!! This is a god-given plant and it has changed thousands and thousands of people’s lives and for the government to try taking it away, it’s all about greed

  25. Avatar

    Sher Bennett

    September 13, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Glad to see HT addressing the Kratom issue, but this article was not very well researched. Looks like the “facts” within were obtained in a 15 minute google search. Could have written a more factual article that speaks to the situation as it is, behind the thin veneer of quickly googled pseudo-information.

    How about the fact that there have been patents on the constituents of kratom since 1964, rendering the DEA’s claim there is “no medical benefit” completely false?

    How about the interesting situation in Canada (with whom we have cooperative agreements) where they consider kratom a legal and natural substance – can we wonder for a minute why their research did not uncover an “imminent threat” requiring an “emergency scheduling”??? And then can we wonder why the DEA, during their “research” did not consult our Canadian partners for input and comments, as they were supposed to do per legal agreements between our two nations?

    I could go on, but I need to get ready for work, a very physical job where I need to stay alert and steady, two things I could not do if the DEA was correct about kratom being “like heroin” – I will be using some of this herb today to treat my pain from cervical spine issues. So hey, Bill Weinberg, how about a follow-up article where you reveal some of the legal issues with the DEA’s proposal (see the CRE’s letter to them for more details) and debunk some of the hyperbole that the DEA has perpetuated regarding the effects of kratom?

  26. Avatar

    elfhellion

    September 19, 2016 at 5:56 am

    There is no proof kratom does anything bad, from everything I have read, medical studies, etc., it has no ill effects! Every single “death” the DEA tried to cite, the death in question involved another substance. In worldwide recorded history there are less than 60 deaths where kratom was found in the system, along with the substance that actually killed the person! Please either update this article or write a new one! The mainstream press has only finally caught on, just slightly – but people who take it, as I do – for severe arthritis – don’t have time to waste! The DEA is attempting to make unilateral law with this insane “ban.” Kratom works on opiate receptors, they argue. Yea? So does sugar! We all know once something is scheduled, it is nearly impossible to change that, unless the DEA is torched. HuffPo, even Newsweek have written articles about how kratom is used for chronic pain – you guys need to step it up, seriously, please. We all know the DEA is just a whore for Big Pharma and the alcohol industry. But the whole American public needs to know… research on kraytom has been kept on the downlow, purposely, because of this insane fascist agency. This is liberty at stake. People will become felons to treat their arthritis, to self-cure their opiate addiction? Please. Christ, I will write the damn article for you!

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