Lawmakers urge DEA to reconsider ban of kratom

Lawmakers urge DEA to reconsider ‘hasty’ ban of opioid-like kratom – By Eric Boodman @ericboodman  September 23, 2016

When the Drug Enforcement Administration announced in late August that it would outlaw an opioid-like plant called kratom, the reaction was immediate.

Kratom sellers threatened legal action.

Over 130,000 people signed a petition to stop the ban. Some 400 users marched in front of the White House, with kids wearing shirts that said, “Kratom saved my mom.”

Now members of Congress are getting involved.  

A bipartisan group has signed a letter asking the DEA to delay the kratom ban, calling the decision “hasty” and pointing out that there was no opportunity for public comment.

By Thursday [9/22], about 25 House members had signed on, according to Representative Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin who spearheaded the project with Republican Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona.

The signatories include Representative John Conyers Jr., a Democrat from Michigan, the longest-serving congressman and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Republican Representative Dr. Dan Benishek, also of Michigan, who is a family doctor and general surgeon.

Pocan’s office plans to send the letter Monday [9/26], after collecting a few more signatures.

“They really haven’t done what I would consider due diligence,” he said. “With Schedule 1 there is supposed to be no medical use. … And there are at least three patents pending for medical uses.”

members of Congress have been hearing from constituents. They have called in to talk about using kratom as an alternative to opioids.

Calls have also come from veterans who use the plant — either swallowed as a powder, taken as a pill, or drunk as a tea — to control their post-traumatic stress disorder.

In early September, a DEA spokesperson told STAT that the temporary ban is “definitely going to happen as early as September 30.

The agency said it would respond to the letter from members of Congress, but would not comment until it was received.

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