DEA Backtracks On Plan To Ban Kratom
2 min

DEA Backtracks On Plan To Ban Kratom

2 min
Legislation News

Kratom has recently seen increased popularity as an alternative treatment for mood disorders like anxiety or depression. Back in August, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration attempted to impose a ban on Kratom which it now reversed, citing the need for more studies. This unprecedented move by the DEA is now giving hope to Kratom advocates.

Kratom is a newcomer among the consciousness-altering herbs and plants known in the West. Made from a tree that’s native to South East Asia, Kratom provides opiate-like and stimulating effects and is said to have big medical and therapeutic potential.


Earlier this month, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration conceded that it had been too hasty attempting to instate a ban on Kratom.

The DEA published a notice in the Federal Register where the agency said that it had withdrawn from a previous announcement where they initially outlined plans to place two active compounds in Kratom, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, on the Schedule I ban list. In the United States, drugs that fall under Schedule I include drugs such as heroin and LSD which are known to have high potential for abuse with no known therapeutic benefits.

The DEA’s initial proposal for the ban was followed by widespread criticism from Kratom advocates. Now, the agency says that they will open an official comment period that will last until December. Likewise, the DEA is now asking the FDA for a thorough scientific and medical evaluation that they will be using for an updated scheduling recommendation.


Kratom, made from the leaves of an evergreen tree that is native to Southeast Asia is sometimes compared to coffee. The two main active compounds in Kratom have opiate-like, sedating and stimulating effects. The herb has a long history of being used in traditional Asian medicine.


Kratom bali

Kratom has recently seen increased popularity in the West for its sedative effects and the plant’s use as an alternative treatment for depression, anxiety and opioid addiction.

However, the DEA had previously raised concerns about Kratom’s addictive potential and a number of reports about harm from its use. The agency’s backtracking from their plan to ban the herb will keep Kratom legal although it is not clear for how long.

Should the DEA conclude after Dec. 1 that there is “substantial evidence of potential for abuse to support” the agency can take additional action through the permanent or temporary scheduling process. The DEA will need to submit an additional notice of proposed rulemaking for a permanent ban.

Another possible scenario could be that the agency maintains that emergency scheduling of Kratom is necessary to avoid a hazard to public safety. In this case, the DEA would likely file a new notice of intent that could go into effect within a month. There are also options on the table that the agency pursues both, emergency and permanent scheduling at the same time or that the herb is left unregulated.


It is noteworthy to point out that the DEA’s decision to reverse a proposed ban on a drug is without precedence. This action led many drug policy reform advocates who opposed the ban on Kratom to declare victory.

The Deputy Director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, Grant Smith, stated that it “is a truly remarkable moment to see the Drug Enforcement Administration, a law enforcement agency with a long track record of ignoring both science and public opinion, being forced to consider the scientific evidence and public opinion before taking additional steps with respect to Kratom”.

He added that people who oppose the ban have only six weeks to tell the federal government that the herb does not belong in what he called “our broken drug scheduling system”.

Kratom advocates in the US are obviously hoping that the current halt on Kratom’s classification as a schedule I drug will turn into that the herb will remain entirely legal. However, nothing is written in stone yet and it remains to be seen what the final outcome will be.



Written by: Georg
Based in Spain, Georg spends a lot of his time not only geeking out at his computer but in his garden as well. With a burning passion for growing cannabis and researching psychedelics, Georg is well versed in all things psychoactive.

      Find out about our writers  

Read more about
Legislation News
Search in categories