Feds to Ban Chemicals Found in Kratom Plant

     (CN) — The Drug Enforcement Agency said Tuesday it plans to criminalize active ingredients found in a tropical tree indigenous to Southeast Asia, citing a rising presence on U.S. streets and high potential for abuse.
     The DEA announced its intent to place mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine — the active materials found in the kratom plant — into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
     Schedule I is the most restrictive classification of drugs, and currently includes heroin, LSD, ecstasy and marijuana.
     The agency says kratom — which is sold on the street as a powder, plant, pill, liquid or drug patch — is abused for its opioid-like effects, and has a high potential for abuse.
     It has no accepted medical use in the United States, and is often sold as a legal alternative to other drugs, according to the DEA.
     Police across the country reportedly seized more kratom in the first half of 2016 than any previous year.
     “The presence of the psychoactive plant kratom has increased dramatically on the recreational market in the United States due to its opioid-like effects. Numerous vendors selling kratom have appeared in the past few years, markedly increasing its availability,” according to a notice of intent filed in the U.S. Federal Register.
     The DEA says in its notice that “the Internet is the most utilized source for the purchase of kratom products, making kratom just ‘a click’ away for users.”
     Between 2010 and 2015, poison centers in the U.S. received 660 calls about kratom exposure, the government says. The Center for Disease Control said kratom abuse can lead to agitation, irritability, nausea, drowsiness and hypertension.
     The DEA said it is aware of 15 kratom-related deaths in the past two years.
     The kratom plant is indigenous to Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and other parts of Southeast Asia.

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