In late August, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency announced a ban on the herbal supplement kratom. Now, after much public outcry and demands made by lawmakers, the agency is reconsidering its decision.
Easily purchased online and at many health food stores, the popular herb would be just as illegal as heroin or ecstasy once the DEA’s ban on kratom goes into effect. The agency plans to reclassify the plant as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Specifically, the DEA has a problem with two active chemicals in kratom, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These two ingredients activate the same brain receptors as other drugs like oxycodone and morphine.
While the agency did not commit to a firm date, the DEA’s kratom ban could have taken effect on September 30, yet the order has not been signed. According to a source familiar with the DEA’s ban decision, the prohibition may not take effect until after a period of public comment and consultations with the Food and Drug Administration. Should the order be signed and kratom become illegal, it will remain prohibited for a period of up to three years, unless the agency decides to make the ban permanent.