Kratom Schedule IThe unspeakable has happened; the DEA has decided that because of a fabricated public threat, that Kratom needs to be scheduled immediately. They cited 15 deaths from Kratom, yet when that number was researched, there was not a single death associated with Kratom. This “Emergency Scheduling” of Kratom is supposed to take place on September 30, 2016.

You can take action; you can sign the petition that as of this writing, over 100,000 people have already signed. Gathering 100,000 signatures forces the White House to respond to the petition. It’s called “PLEASE DO NOT MAKE KRATOM A SCHEDULE I SUBSTANCE“. Keep adding to the pile of signatures and become a part of history.

There is widespread panic, and the pro-Kratom machinery has launched at full force. As a former Director of the Botanical Legal Defense who personally fought to have the Illinois Scheduling of Kratom changed to making it legal for sale to those 18 and older, all of my former colleagues have leapt into action and are taking a number of very powerful and loud steps to make enough noise and enough of a difference to get this ridiculously unfair scheduling rescinded.

First, the document the DEA submitted contains the thinnest reference to what exactly the public threat is. Take a look at the document that the DEA submitted, and see for yourself how utterly absurd this Scheduling is. Let’s examine this comment:

Numerous deaths associated with kratom, which contains the main active constituents mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, have been reported indicating that this substance is a serious public health threat. In 2016, DEA has received correspondences from public/state officials which indicate that there were a significant number of overdoses and traffic fatalities directly, or indirectly, involving kratom.

And this is what they cited as their source for this data:

Correspondences on file with DEA (dated April 19, 2016).

Are they SERIOUS? Their entire justification for placing a natural herbal product that has been used safely for hundreds of years is being placed on the same level as heroin, based on “correspondences”? This is the substantial scientific data that is required?

Not surprisingly, the Center for Disease Control told a completely different story. Our researchers couldn’t find a single death directly from Kratom, and from 2010 – 2015, there were a total of 660 emergency room visits total. At first glance, does that seem like a lot? Perhaps. But, let’s give that number some perspective:

  • Poison Control Centers receive 3,000,000 calls per year. The 110 calls about Kratom is only about 0.004% of the total calls.
  • On average, Posion Control Centers receive about 300,000 calls per year for reactions to analgesics
  • Household cleaning products recieve about 100,000 calls per year.
  • Two-thirds of that 0.004% of  calls for Kratom were deemed to be “minor” incidents.

The list goes on, and on, and on. According to Drug War Facts, over 29,000 people die from “alcohol-induced deaths.” Why isn’t alcohol a Schedule I substance?

Just a glance on the internet shows some powerful news outlets reporting how absurd this move by the DEA is:

The DEA’s Crazy Kratom Ban Dresses Pharmacological Phobia In Scientific Garb

Kratom Advocates Speak Out Against Proposed Government Ban

What The DEA’s Plan To Schedule 1 Kratom Will Mean For Millions

When Kratom gets placed on Schedule I, that means the Federal Government sees no medical benefit to this plant whatsoever.  That translates into any hazards associated with kratom pose an unacceptable risk to public health, even if they compare favorably to those associated with other prescription medication, including legal opiates that Big Pharma is peddling to Americans in alarming numbers. For example, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, they say this:

It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 and an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin.

Just a glance at the National Institute of Health shows a completely different story than the one the DEA has presented:

We report the self-treatment of chronic pain and opioid withdrawal with kratom. The predominant alkaloid of kratom, mitragynine, binds mu- and kappa-opioid receptors, but has additional receptor affinities that might augment its effectiveness at mitigating opioid withdrawal. The natural history of kratom use, including its clinical pharmacology and toxicology, are poorly understood.

This can be found at the study called “Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom (Mitragynia speciosa korth)“. The personal stories that have poured into the media over the past couple of weeks is staggering, and heartbreaking. Just because there are a few bad seeds abusing a safe and effective plant, there’s no reason to lie to the public and claim that it has no medical value whatsoever. If the comparison between Kratom and opiates is going to be made, then by that reasoning, ALL opiates, including all prescription medication such as hydrocodone and oxycodone need to be emergency scheduled immediately.

Doesn’t it seem slightly odd that a $100 million dollar a year industry for a plant that can’t be patented is suddenly the unfair target of an organization that has Big Pharma as one of their main interests? People often call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s difficult to escape the fact that Kratom is growing into a large enough industry that it might actually cut into Big Pharma’s profits, especially since there are now numerous scientific studies that prove Kratom is effective against opioid withdrawal. Doesn’t it make vastly more sense to work to make Kratom a safe and effective alternative for those trying to get themselves off of opioids, if there is such an opioid epidemic in the United States as the media has recently reported there is? Just take a look at one of countless articles regarding that topic:

Opioid epidemic: Treatment costs surge 1,300 percent in 4 years, study finds

In 2014, a scientific journal called “Pharmacotherapy came to this conclusion: “Serious toxicity is rare and usually involves relatively high doses (more than 15 g) or coingestants.” “Coingestant” simply means that there were other mitigating factors involved even in the cases of toxicity that may have been related to Kratom.

We can look in countless places with minimal effort to debunk the DEA’s claim. In the Journal of Legal Medicine, they arrived at an extraordinarily similar conclusion: “Kratom is considered minimally toxic.” They went on to discuss the withdrawal symptoms for Kratom ingestion: “withdrawal symptoms are generally nonexistent to mild, even for heavy users.” And, pertinent to this moment in history, was another one of their conclusions regarding two Florida counties who “have deemed kratom not ready for regulation due to the lack of information demonstrating the substance as being unsafe or hazardous.”

So, I ask again, why is a clearly safe, natural plant being targeted and demonized in this way?


UNODC, World Drug Report 2012.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013.