The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) put out a warning this week that they are adding mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine to their strictly forbidden list of substances. These alkaloids are usually found in the kratom plant, native to Southeast Asia.
Since 2014, fifteen people have died from the opioid-like effects of the plant and up to 12 million doses of the drug have been confiscated or rejected entry into the United States. That’s prompted the DEA to file an intent to temporarily schedule the active materials in the plant, which are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. The active ingredients from the tropical tree has been found in various forms such as; powder, plant, capsules, tablets, liquids, gum/resin, and drug patch.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that kratom abuse leads to agitation, irritability, tachycardia, nausea, drowsiness, and hypertension. Abusing the plant can lead to hepatotoxicity, psychosis, seizure, weight loss, insomnia, tachycardia, vomiting, poor concentration, hallucinations, and even death.
The DEA has been concerned with kratom for several years now. It’s indigenous to Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and other areas of Southeast Asia but it’s becoming more of an issue in the United States as law enforcement have seized more kratom in the first half of 2016 than any previous year. To put that into perspective, from 2014 to 2016, about 55,000 kilograms have either been caught trying to enter the United States. According to DEA officials, the scheduling is a necessary step to avoid an imminent hazard to public safety.
“…kratom has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. These three factors constitute a Schedule I controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970,” reads the DEA letter of intent.
Much like other plants with immeasurable effects on the human body, the DEA plans to federally prohibit kratom “because the identity, purity levels, and quantity of these substances are uncertain and inconsistent, they pose significant adverse health risks to users.”