What the Reversed Kratom Ban Teaches Us About Drug Advocacy in America

You may not be familiar with the drug kratom, but many Americans are. Kratom is known to relieve pain and anxiety, and has often been used to ease the challenges of getting off of more harmful drugs, namely opioids. The DEA was slated to ban kratom until late September, when an outpouring of public activism by kratom users led to an indefinite delay on such a ban.

Earlier this year, the DEA announced its intent to place kratom on the list of Schedule I drugs. This is the most restrictive category of banned substances that includes drugs like heroin and LSD. The DEA describes a Schedule I like so: “Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence.” Kratom users have used the drug to help them kick their OxyContin habit. Despite being a far more addictive substance, OxyContin is a Schedule II drug. Advocates for kratom compare the drug’s addictive power to coffee. No deaths have been linked to the drug.

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