Drug Enforcement Administration has no timeline for banning controversial herbal supplement kratom

Feds call it 'an imminent hazard to public safety'
Posted at 10:49 AM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 10:53:41-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Drug Enforcement Agency does not have a timeline of when it will ban the controversial herb kratom, WCPO's sister station WPTV reports.

In late August, the Drug Enforcement Administration gave 30 days notice of its intent to make kratom a Schedule I Controlled Substance, in the same group as heroin. Friday marks 30 days since that announcement, but the agency says it is not ready to file the final order.

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Several online kratom vendors have put up notices on their websites announcing their stock is limited and future sales are uncertain due to the DEA's intent. This has caused an increase in demand for kratom.

"One minute I’m elated that I hear something wonderful like about the DEA banning it, making it a Schedule I drug and the next minute it’s going to be delayed," said Linda Mautner, who has been pushing for legislation to ban kratom.

Two years ago, Mautner lost her son Ian to what she calls a substance-induced suicide. She says he had been addicted to kratom for three years.

"He started in the summer of 2011 right before his senior year, and he was gone in 2014," said Mautner.

She understands people say they use kratom for pain relief, but she is concerned about where the kratom powder mixes are coming from and what's in them.

"Are you trusting the hands that’s going through? I mean, this can be laced as we have seen with other drugs," added Mautner.

Hugh Hamilton is pro-kratom. He has been using the herb for three years and makes his own kratom capsules.

"It alleviated the my sciatica symptoms, so I didn’t have to take prescription meds anymore," Hamilton said.

Hamilton says he is all for regulation of the herb but does not agree with making kratom illegal, reinforcing that it has medical benefits.

The DEA calls kratom an "imminent hazard to public safety." A spokesperson for the agency says kratom will be banned by the federal government, but there is no date as to when that final order will be submitted.

Local law enforcement agencies in Florida said they were waiting on instructions from the federal government.