When the Drug Enforcement Administration formally backed off plans last year to ban the ability to buy kratom, the agency announced it would accept input from the public to help determine how to proceed.
Kratom is a herb made from the leaves of Mitragyna species, a Southeast Asian tree related to coffee. Often taken in powder form, kratom contains the alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which appear to activate opioid receptors in the brain and reduce pain. And although most opioids have sedative qualities, low to moderate doses of kratom actually serve as a mild stimulant.
A diverse coalition of supporters appears prepared to stand firm against that move. Of the 2,416 comments submitted to the DEA with profession-related information, nearly half self-identified as either veteran, law enforcement officials, health care professionals or scientists. The overwhelming majority of these were in favor of keeping kratom legal, with veterans supporting by a margin of 448 to 1 and medical professionals supporting by a margin of 569 to 7.
Despite having received overwhelming support in favor of keeping kratom legal, it’s not yet clear how the DEA will proceed. The agency is still awaiting the results of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration analysis of the potential harms and health benefits of the herb, which will determine if kratom truly poses an “imminent hazard to the public safety,” as the DEA initially claimed last year.
“What we found is a kratom community of responsible consumers who look just like your family and the people who live next door,” they said. “The face of kratom consumers is the face of America today.”