According to CBS Denver, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“US DEA”) recently made a decision to classify a substance called kratom as a Schedule I drug. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Labeling the substances as an “imminent threat,” the US DEA released a notice of intent for this action that caused the Denver Department of Environmental Health to force 15 area retailers to pull the substance from their shelves. However, local protests and protests in Washington, D.C. convinced members of Congress to ask the US DEA to gather more information related to kratom before taking action on it.
What is Kratom?
According to the the Los Angeles Times’ coverage of the US DEA’s actions related to kratom, it is a leafy botanical substance from a tropical tree that is related to coffee which has been used to treat ailments throughout Southeast Asia for centuries. It is generally available in powder or capsule form. Some of the things it has been used to treat include chronic pain and addiction, potentially including addiction to opioids. With a rising opioid addiction problem throughout the United States, the popularity of kratom has increased as a method of combatting a public health issue resulting in almost 20,000 yearly deaths and paralyzing emergency services in communities across the country. Researchers are currently trying to determine how the active ingredient in kratom, mitragynine, has an effect on reducing addiction and believe it may affect brain receptors in a way that reduces withdrawal symptoms.
Lifting the Ban
According to CBS Denver, a US DEA spokesperson was not available for comment. However, the Director of Inspections at Denver Department of Environmental Health was quoted in the article as noting that the US DEA’s decision to postpone classification of the substance as illegal may indicate that they have changed positions on the potential imminent threat they initially believed the substance could pose. According to ABC Denver, while Denver businesses may continue to sell the substance for the time being, they must do so while observing the following guidelines:
- Any kratom served for on-site or offsite consumption must be accompanied by a consumer advisory on related menus;
- Products intended for offsite consumption must also contain labels that identify the product as well as the manufacturer; and
- Kratom products must be handled in a way that avoids potential contamination as a result of poor personal hygiene, unclean equipment, toxic chemicals, and other potential sources of contamination.
In the interim, the US DEA still asserts that kratom causes hallucinations, psychosis, and possibly death, though users believe any related deaths were the result of the use of other drugs, too.
Legal Assistance with Drug-Related Crimes
While the future of kratom may be uncertain, there are still strict Colorado laws governing other drugs. Consequences for violating these laws can be severe, even with legalized recreational marijuana use. If you are facing drug-related charges, one of the first steps in your defense will be securing a Colorado criminal defense attorney that has experience working with clients in defending against drug-related charges. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation about drug-related charges you may be facing and find out what options might be available to you in your circumstances.