The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has published a notice of intent to place the Southeast Asian plant known as Kratom in its most restrictive classification of the Controlled Substances Act.
Kratom will join ecstasy, heroin, LSD, and marijuana in the Schedule 1 restrictive drug classification list in the United States, along with its two main compounds, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
According to a filing by the DEA, Kratom will temporarily be placed on the Schedule 1 list on September 30. The full announcement was published in the Federal Register August 31, according to Forbes.
Kratom is used as a painkiller and sometimes a replacement for heroin and other options.The Drug Enforcement Administration reclassified the drug from a drug of concern to a schedule I Substance on Aug. 31, making it equal to other drugs like LSD, marijuana, and heroin.
Kratom is legal to sell or use currently, one business here in Colorado Springs says users are stopping by and stocking up on the drug before they can’t get it legally anymore.
“It was actually really disappointing because I have a lot of customers that are kratom regulars,” Elev8 Glass Gallery owner Becca Stevens said.
Stevens has been selling kratom for a few years now.
“It’s not a ton of our sales, but we’re definitely gonna feel it,” Stevens said.
Stevens just pulled the drug off shelves a few days ago when the DEA reclassified the drug. The DEA cited the high potential of abuse as the reason for adding kratom to the list, as it can produce opioid-like effects.
“A lot of people are very upset and frustrated because they don’t know what they’re going to do,” Stevens said. “because a lot of people do use it in substitute for pharmaceuticals.”
Kratom is a tree native to southeast Asia.
Here in the U.S. it comes as an edible herbal supplement.
The DEA says the drug can be abused either in pill form or dissolved and ingested just like regular tea, and can lead to psychotic symptoms like hallucinations, delusion and confusion.
“A lot of people can function on it, people do feel the need to take it often,” Stevens said.
“Depending on the strain of the plant, it can be soothing in someways and energizing in others,” Higher Elevations Masterpiece Production (H.E.M.P.) employee Heidi Lovejoi said.
H.E.M.P. is Elev8 Glass Gallery’s sister store, Lovejoi says customers come in daily looking for kratom and now they’re stocking up.
“People have been buying it out like crazy, we’re already sold out of certain brands of the product.
The DEA says there have been 15 kratom related deaths between 2014 and 2016. Lovejoi says she’s not sure of what users will turn to after kratom’s illegal.
“To a lot of people this really is medicine, and being that they have such a codependency on it, people are going to start turning to other things,” Lovejoi said.
All sales of kratom have to stop by September 30th, after that, the drug will be considered a Schedule I substance and illegal nationwide for at least two years.