Southeast Asia’s Kratom Leaf Draws Controversy

Throughout the course of botanical history, there have been two distinct types of people: those who want to ingest plants for their medicinal and psychoactive properties, and those who want to make those plants illegal. Most recently, the debate has centered on the Southeast Asian leaf Kratom, a natural painkiller ingested to treat chronic illness. But the plant, which comes from a tropical evergreen tree, also has several recreational benefits.

In low doses Kratom can act as a stimulant. At high doses it can act as a sedative, similar to a narcotic. The substance, which many say is more “subtle” than marijuana, is banned by the military and is illegal in six states. In 2014, the FDA began seizing Kratom coming into the U.S., and in 2016 the DEA announced its intentions to regulate the plant, receiving protest from users. Still, many enjoy its effects, often mixing the soluble ground powder in chocolate milk shakes, grapefruit juice or tea, while others take it in pill form.

Read more about kratom over at Dope Magazine.

Could Oregon ban the herbal supplement Kratom?

More than a dozen bills have already been proposed in the upcoming Oregon Legislature dealing with marijuana, but there is also one bill about a lesser-known herb unheard of by many, fiercely adored by some and almost banned by the DEA.

For millennia, people in Southeast Asia used the leaves from the tree Mitragyna speciosa — more commonly known as kratom — to combat fatigue and as a traditional medicine. This herb is often sold as a kratom powder or extract.

The herb’s modern proponents claim it can help with opioid withdrawal, pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Its detractors decry it as an “imminent hazard to public safety,” citing 15 kratom-related deaths in the United States during a two-year period.

Read the full story on Statesman Journal

What happens if kratom becomes illegal?

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has received thousands of comments on whether it should make a psychoactive painkiller called kratom illegal because some say it could be key to battling the country’s opioid epidemic.

The DEA announced in August that it would list kratom, which is typically sold as a powder in capsules or for tea and can produce both a narcotic and a stimulant effect, as a Schedule 1 drug — along with heroin, LSD and ecstasy. Schedule 1 drugs are illegal because they have a “high potential for abuse” and there is no existing research that would make it acceptable for medical use.

Read the full story here.

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.

Read the full story on Merry Jane.