DEA Withdraws Plans To Classify Kratom The Same As Heroin

Photo: Kratom Rally 2
A protestor holds up a sign as Jeremy Haley speaks at the kratom rally at the Denver capital on Sept. 23.

The DEA is withdrawing their notice of intent to ban the use of the natural substance kratom.

In a document to be published on the Federal Register Thursday, the DEA cites receiving "numerous comments" requesting that public opinion be considered in their deliberation.

On Aug. 30 the DEA made the announcement that it would temporarily label kratom as a Schedule I substance-- the same category as heroin, and considered worse than methamphetamine.

The DEA said the reason for the emergency scheduling was due to evidence that abuse of kratom is rising. They cite 15 kratom-related deaths between 2014 and 2015, and 660 calls to the Poison Control Center related to kratom exposure between 2010 and 2015.

Kratom is made from the leaves of a Southeast Asian tree, and is most commonly powdered and swallowed, or made into a tea. Supporters say it’s helpful for chronic pain, anxiety and depression, and can aid in withdrawal from opioids.

Colorado Democratic Representative Jared Polis was one of the 52 members of Congress that signed a letter of objection to the DEA, saying he fears banning kratom could make the opioid crisis worse. Nearly 19,000 died from opioid pain relievers in 2014.

One of the only kratom storefronts in the nation was in Colorado-- it's since been closed.

The DEA will now be soliciting comments from the public until Dec. 1.