Possession of Kratom
“Mitragynine” or “7-Hydroxymitragynine” is commonly known as Kratom. According to the DEA, Kratom is derived from a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia.
Human consumption of the trees’ leaves results in “stimulant effects in low doses and sedative effects in high doses, and can lead to psychotic symptoms, and psychological and physiological dependence.” See A DEA Resource Guide, Drugs of Concern, U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration, 84, (2017 Edition).
To consume Kratom, the leaves of the tree are crushed and then smoked, brewed with tea, or placed into gel capsules. Id. In recent years, the DEA has noticed a significant increase in the abuse of Kratom in the United States. Id.
The DEA has found that the substance is “abused by oral ingestion in the form of a tablet, capsule, or extract. Kratom leaves may also be dried or powdered and ingested as a tea, or the [K]ratom leaf may be chewed.” Id.
Scientist have found that Kratom has opioid components but is more complex than a traditional opioid. Similar to the way antidepressants work, some of the alkaloids in Kratom can act through the serotonin and norepinephrine systems.
In the United States, Kratom is being marketed as a dietary supplement, although there is not enough data to tie it to a medical claim.
Is Kratom a Controlled Substance?
Although the DEA has listed Kratom as a Drug and Chemical of Concern, it is not originally listed as a controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) published two active Import Alerts pertaining to the importation of products known to contain Kratom.
The first alert, Alert No. 54-15, was created in response to a noticed “increase in the number of shipments of dietary supplements and bulk dietary ingredients that are, or contain Kratom.” See https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_1137.html.
The second alert, Alert No. 66-41 , was aimed at combating “the marketing or promotion of unapproved drugs to individuals residing in the United States.” https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_ 190.html.
Import Alert No. 54-15 explained that “there does not appear to be a history of use or other evidence of safety establishing that [K]ratom will reasonably be expected to be safe as a dietary ingredient,” and that there are “serious concerns regarding the toxicity of [K]ratom in multiple organ systems.” See Id.
In 2016, Kratom was classified as a schedule 1 drug which includes “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
At last county, Kratom was illegal in six states and a handful of cities and counties across the country. Legislation is pending in several other states for regulating the drug.
Because such a large number of people claim to have positive experiences when using kratom, its regulation is controversial.