MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will classify kratom as a Schedule I controlled substance. Specifically, the compounds mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine will be added to the list.
Kratom is a tropical tree in the coffee family that’s indigenous to Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and other areas of Southeast Asia.In addition to having a stimulant effect, its active ingredient -- 7-Hydroxymitragynine -- hits the brain's opioid receptor in a way similar to morphine, but with effects far less dramatic and intense.
Kratom is sold in a liquid, powder and pill form, and because it is considered a nutritional product it is not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
The Fox 9 Investigators went undercover last year and found kratom was widely available in the Twin Cities in head shops, herbal shops and nutrition stores. At that time, Hennepin County Medical Center's Poison Control Center had received about 20 kratom-related calls in 6 months, including users with symptoms of withdrawal and addiction.
"Kratom can be addictive just like Vicodin or oxycodone," says Dr. JoAn Laes, a medical toxicologist at HCMC.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers identified two exposures to kratom from 2000 and 2005. Between 2010 and 2015, U.S. poison centers received 660 calls related to kratom exposure. The DEA is aware of 15 kratom-related deaths between 2104 and 2016.
If you are taking kratom and have concerns, or an adverse reaction, you can call the HCMC Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
“Kratom is abused for its ability to produce opioid-like effects and is often marketed as a legal alternative to controlled substances,” the DEA said in a statement. “Law enforcement nationwide has seized more kratom in the first half of 2016 than any previous year and easily accounts for millions of dosages intended for the recreational market, according to DEA findings. In addition, kratom has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. These three factors constitute a Schedule I controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970.”
Kratom has been seized by law enforcement in various forms, including powder, plant, capsules, tablets, liquids, resin and controlled-release patches. Because the identity, purity levels and quantity of these substances are uncertain and inconsistent, the DEA is concerned with the potential for significant adverse health risks in users.