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   Sep 14

Op-Ed: Kratom now joins heroin and LSD on Schedule 1 drug list

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has published a notice of intent to place the Southeast Asian plant known as Kratom in its most restrictive classification of the Controlled Substances Act.

Kratom will join ecstasy, heroin, LSD, and marijuana in the Schedule 1 restrictive drug classification list in the United States, along with its two main compounds, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine.

According to a filing by the DEA, Kratom will temporarily be placed on the Schedule 1 list on September 30.

The full announcement was published in the Federal Register August 31, according to Forbes.

In its filing, the DEA proposes designating Kratom as a Schedule 1 drug for up to three years. This means the drug has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” says the DEA. After that time, the Schedule 1 status could end up being permanent. Up until this time, the drug had been considered an herbal supplement by the FDA.

What is Kratom?

The Internet is filled with websites selling Kratom powders and extracts, most of them touting free delivery and with prices starting at about $35 for 25 grams. This writer looked at a few of the sites and many are already aware of the DEA classification of Kratom to a Schedule 1 drug, and many of the sites are asking Kratom users to sign on-line petitions against the DEA’s ruling. Mitragyna speciosa, also known as ketum or kratom, is an tropical deciduous evergreen tree in the coffee family. It is native to Southeastern Asia and is indigenous to Thailand where it has been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years, according to a study done in Thailand when the question of decriminalizing Kratom was brought before the Justice Department.

Kratom, at low doses, can be used as a stimulant to heighten awareness or in higher doses, as a sedative, providing opioid-like relief of pain. It is not as addictive as opioids and is used by thousands of people with chronic pain instead of opioids.

Dr. Ed Boyer, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, says that the active ingredients in Kratom bind to our opioid receptors, causing the effects associated with the drug, much like opioids, reports CNN.

Dr. Boyer has done several studies on Kratom, and he says it is a lot more powerful than morphine, and it “dulls pain very well. … You can have very, very good analgesia.” But he adds that unlike heroin and hydrocodone, Kratom does not appear to slow respiration.

Be clear, Kratom is not an opioid, but it can have opioid-like effects. It is not detectable using standard drug screening tests, but its metabolites can be detected using specialized testing. While not being for or against using Kratom, it is really sad that no formal research has been done on this herbal supplement, even though its use has been increasing since 2011 by people self-managing chronic pain.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published data in July 2016 stating that between 2010 and 2015, there were 660 reported cases of exposure to Kratom in the U.S. with “minimal signs or symptoms, which resolved rapidly with no residual disability.” It might be good if the DEA, FDA and CDC got together in making some of these decisions for the public good.

Source: Digital Journal

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