Our Omaha drug crimes defense lawyer blog recently covered how the DEA was reclassifying pink on an emergency basis, making it illegal to have under any circumstance. Pink isn’t the only substance being targeted by the DEA, though. Over the past few months, there has been a whole lot of talk about doing the exact same thing with kratom, only there are major differences in how the substances work and how they’re used.
What is Kratom?
Kratom is a tree that grows naturally in Southeast Asia. Its leaves have typically been made into teas or eaten raw, though today they’re also turned into pills and other types of liquids. Historically, it has primarily been used as a pain reliever, though other common uses include the treatment of diarrhea, coughs, and fatigue. Many also believe it lessens the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Although very little scientific research has been done in this area, researchers have done tests with mice that conclude it targets the same areas of the brain that opioids do.
Is Kratom Dangerous?
Until recently, kratom was fairly low on the DEA’s list of concerns. Even though it has been used for hundreds of years as a natural medicine, it was relatively unknown in the United States. It was even approved by the FDA as an herbal supplement, though with no specific use in mind because no claims of its effectiveness in any kind of treatment had been scientifically proven.
Because unadulterated kratom is usually delivered in low doses, most people know it as a stimulant. However, it works as a sedative in larger doses, though research published by Susruta Majumdar, PhD, indicates that it doesn’t cause the same breathing problems and dependence most sedatives do.
The problem is, there isn’t much research on kratom. The DEA has reports of 15 deaths between 2014 and 2016 that involve the substance. Of them, 14 of the deaths also involved other substances, which means it’s not necessarily a “smoking gun” in terms of what caused the deaths. At the same time, the CDC tracks reports of kratom-related medical issues and says some 42% of those logged between 2010 and 2015 were not major, while just 7% qualified as life-threatening.
Why Would Kratom Be Made Illegal?
Several states already outlaw kratom, but it’s still legal in most places. The DEA’s concerns are mostly surrounding the uptick in deaths related to kratom. The agency’s initial goal was to have it reclassified as a Schedule I substance on an emergency basis, just as it had with pink. In order for it to be a Schedule I, it would have to share characteristics with drugs like heroin and cocaine; meaning there’s no known medicinal value and has the high potential to be abused. However, public outcry over the DEA’s announcement resulted in the agency withdrawing its notice that it would be reclassified on an emergency basis. Instead, officials opted to let the public comment on it through the end of December. At this point, the agency has not made a move to reclassify it again, which means it may continue to be permitted in most states for the time being. Research is likely to continue.
Retain an Experienced Omaha Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer
Despite the state’s low tolerance for most substances, kratom is still legal in Nebraska, but that could change at any point. If you or a loved one is facing charges for an illegal substance, you’ll need the help of an experienced Omaha drug crimes defense lawyer. Attorney Daniel Stockmann has built up an amazing track record over nearly two decades of service and can create a winning strategy for you. Call (844) 906-0641 to schedule your free consultation today.