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posted by martyb on Thursday September 01 2016, @12:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the deadly-embrace dept.

Kratom, an herbal drug made of ground-up tree leaves, is "temporarily" joining other natural substances such as cannabis, psilocybin, and peyote on the schedule I list of the Controlled Substances Act. The active ingredients in kratom, the indole alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, are both being added to the list for up to three years, after which they can be added permanently.

Prior to this move, the U.S. has already been seizing shipments of kratom:

In 2014, the FDA issued an import alert that allowed US Customs agents to detain kratom without a physical examination. "We have identified kratom as a botanical substance that could pose a risk to public health and have the potential for abuse," said Melinda Plaisier, the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. According to the DEA, between February 2014 and July 2016, nearly 247,000 pounds of kratom were seized.

Advocates say that kratom is a natural treatment for opioid addiction, an application that the Drug Enforcement Agency dismisses. Meanwhile, the heroin/opioid epidemic continues with "unprecedented" events like the recent 174 heroin overdoses in just six days in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Check out the implosion of this kratom subreddit, which is attempting to get 100,000 signatures on the White House petition site:

APATHY WILL GET US NOWHERE. IF THERE WAS EVER A TIME FOR US TO BAND TOGETHER, ITS NOW. stand with me brothers and sisters. hope is not lost.


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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @12:49PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @12:49PM (#396148)

    Meanwhile, the heroin/opioid epidemic continues with "unprecedented" events like the recent 174 heroin overdoses in just six days in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    This is only relevant if the herbs actually do help with addiction therapy. Because there is a problem with opiate addiction doesn't mean that is a green light to any substance that says it can treat it. We went through those pains when the 1996 dietary supplements act was passed and a flood of crap claims came onto the market (St. John's wort, echinacea, etc.).

    Might as well throw in a "think of the children" sentence there too.

    • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:17PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:17PM (#396156)

      True. Has there been any proof of harm so far though? This seems like the same frap that happened with Cannabis.

      • (Score: 1) by Francis on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:11PM

        by Francis (5544) on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:11PM (#396192)

        proof of harm is only relevant for classification as schedule 1, not for legality. Any recommendations for use for medical purposes is illegal without approval by the FDA.

        • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:22PM

          by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:22PM (#396196)

          I'm not talking about any claimed medical uses. I don't think that's the DEA's area anyway, it's the FDA. Basically, the DEA is making this drug illegal because ... they feel like it? Has there actually been any harm proven?

          • (Score: 1) by Francis on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:01PM

            by Francis (5544) on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:01PM (#396255)

            Yes and it was the FDA that sent out a bulletin that it wasn't approved for use in the US and should be impounded when found. The DEA was founded several years after the act that created this scheduling was.

            Also, the burden of proof here is on people that are trying to sell this stuff to demonstrate that it's safe and effective for use. This was the result of the previous system where people were allowed to bottle whatever they liked, make whatever claims about it they liked and people got sick and died as a result.

            I personally like knowing that if I'm taking something or eating something that it's established to be at least a little bit safe rather than being a complete unknown.

            • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:23PM

              by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:23PM (#396326)

              Isn't this just a frikkin' plant?

            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @08:03PM

              by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @08:03PM (#396354) Journal

              Schedule I does a lot more than prevent some overseas people from shipping you some potentially dangerous drugs. It also prevents you from legally growing it in your own home, on your own terms. No tree leaves for you!

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          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @06:27PM

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @06:27PM (#396303) Journal

            Apparently, the only deaths linked to kratom involved other substances.

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    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:21PM (#396174)

      St. John's Wort

      While nowhere near as effective as say, kanna, St. John's Wort really does work for depression.

      If we are to be honest, Kratom may or may not be effective against opiate addiction. One thing is for sure though it certainly is competition to the drug cartel, who specialise in both legal opiates and street heroin, that currently run the government of the United States of America. That's the real reason for the scheduling.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:42PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:42PM (#396180)

        Do you have a reference?

        In the case of depression, the study should be double-blind and randomized with a placebo control or it will not be convincing.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:11PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:11PM (#396190)

          Please learn to use the internet. Multiple references are a single search away. And for anything, you really need to review multiple references as you can always find a reference to support the opinion you want. Find some references for the claim and some against the claim, then read them and come to whichever conclusion you want.

          From Wikipedia:
          Studies have supported the efficacy of St John's wort as a treatment for depression in humans.[5][15] A 2015 meta-analysis review concluded that it has superior efficacy to placebo in treating depression; is as effective as standard antidepressant pharmaceuticals for treating depression; and has fewer adverse effects than other antidepressants.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:39PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:39PM (#396283)

            Please learn to use the internet. Multiple references are a single search away.

            You must be new here. The burden of proof lies on the person making the claim.

            hypericum extracts are effective for the treatment of acute depression, but effects when compared with placebo were modest in size. With 40% of patients responding to placebo, an odds ratio of 1.69 (as found for SSRIs) would mean that 53% of patients receiving an antidepressant respond.

            St. John's wort seems to be somewhat effective (which meets the low bar of most other anti-depressants).

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof [wikipedia.org]
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25583895 [nih.gov]

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:27PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:27PM (#396426)

              We are not talking in person hundreds of years ago. It is trivial to pick out a minor mistake and twist that to invalid anyone's claim or miss a mistake through simple ignorance of the domain. By looking for the proof yourself, you learn far more of the subject area and can make a more accurate assessment if those minor mistakes matter. For example, I could quote that Slashdot article on tabs vs spaces. But if you never look into it yourself you won't realize the researchers never took into account that it takes multiple spaces to replace one tab. If you read their paper, you won't notice the mistake. If you read a few other studies, one of them is likely to mention that issue and then you'll know the first one's conclusions are invalid. You can never trust someone's citation, you always need to find them yourself. That couldn't be done 2000 years ago.

              Nowadays with a global internet available, the person making the claim only needs to give you enough info for you to find out for yourself.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @11:14PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @11:14PM (#396448)

                But if you never look into it yourself

                If you read their paper, you won't notice the mistake.

                I asked for the reference so I could look into the claim. If I am unable to evaluate the claim myself (due to lack of expertise), then I'd be satisfied by multiple reputable sources (these I'd find myself).

                Nowadays with a global internet available, the person making the claim only needs to give you enough info for you to find out for yourself.

                You are so very wrong here.

                On the internet, there are plenty of people that are disingenuous in the claims and questions they make. There are many people that will move the goalposts or dismiss the references you find as not being good enough.

                The burden of proof is even more important on the internet, since you have no real way of knowing if the person is a disingenuous crackpot/expert/troll/dog/bot/etc.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @09:59PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @09:59PM (#396410) Journal

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/08/10/u-s-affirms-its-prohibition-on-medical-marijuana/ [washingtonpost.com]

      In the words of a 2015 Brookings Institution report, a move to Schedule II "would signal to the medical community that [the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health] are ready to take medical marijuana research seriously, and help overcome a government-sponsored chilling effect on research that manifests in direct and indirect ways."

      Schedule I is a great way to stifle research that would be able to nail down the benefits and dangers of a drug like kratom.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:35PM

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:35PM (#396160) Journal

    I'd never heard of kratom until a few weeks ago. I have no idea how dangerous, useful, or both it may be. Whatever it is, I'm sure it is nowhere near the league of truly dangerous substances like weaponized anthrax spores, radioactive and toxic elements such as plutonium and polonium, and unstable and highly corrosive and explosive chemicals such as FOOF.

    I do know that the DEA is not above running a propaganda campaign, trying to "grow their business" regardless of the public interest, same as the slimiest corporate members of the Prison Industrial Complex to which they are too closely connected. Alcohol Prohibition was big business, and when that ended, Harry Anslinger, the head of the predecessor to the DEA, successfully stoked and rode the smearing of marijuana into criminalizing it in the 1930s and making more work for them. Marijuana was driven underground for 80 years thanks to that. Took that long to unravel Anslinger's propaganda and widely disseminate the information that marijuana got a bad rap, and does have beneficial uses.

    When the DEA issues a bald statement that kratom has "no legitimate medical use", they cross the line. Aren't they still the ones who define what constitutes "legitimate"? Considering their history, why are they still allowed to do that? It's all too easy to see that such a statement about kratom is self-fulfilling and self-serving.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by kurenai.tsubasa on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:20PM

      by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:20PM (#396173) Journal

      I've heard it can alleviate symptoms of social anxiety and moderate depression. I haven't heard of it having effects anything like salvia, cannabis, shrooms, that Jimsonweed (avoid this one), nutmeg etc. Meant to try it but never got around to it. Too late now I guess!

      The DEA needs to be eliminated. What doctors did they consult on this determination? What research did they use? What epidemiology data do they have? Zero, zilch, and nada I'm guessing. These are not the actions of a legitimate agency working in the public's interest.

      Hmm….

      I, for one, demand that the DEA outlaw nutmeg and in particular 6-allyl-4-methoxy-1,3-benzodioxole (see, I can pull scary chemical names off Wikipedia too!). It can lead to dehydration and delerium. It has a potential for abuse (really, some people swear by it, especially commie hipsters like artists!). It has no legitimate medical use. What hospital stocks nutmeg, even in the kitchen? See!

      Nutmeg is a danger to society and public health and must be outlawed on schedule 1 immediately!

      • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:21PM

        by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:21PM (#396195)

        I can completely understand not wanting people making unproven medical claims, but that aside, if there's no proven harm, how the hell can they do this?

        • (Score: 1) by Francis on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:06PM

          by Francis (5544) on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:06PM (#396259)

          Perhaps do some reading about what the US was like prior to establishing rules about medical claims. These are substances that have unknown qualities that shouldn't be permitted to gain a foothold without research backing their safety. Just look at alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Those were permitted to be used long enough that enforcement became an issue.

          People have become sufficiently habituated to them that they make up all sorts of lies and myths in order to gain legal access to them that aren't based in any sort of evidence. Now, chances are with marijuana that it'll be legalized without much problem in the future, but alcohol and tobacco result in a large number of fatalities every year and trying to put them back in the bottle has proven to be problematic as addicts refuse to give them up even though there's huge harm to people that aren't using them.

          Bottom line here is that we don't allow pharmaceutical companies to release untested products, so why should we allow the importation of substances with unknown effects on the human body? Even industrial chemicals have stricter regulation than you're suggesting.

          • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:26PM

            by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:26PM (#396332)

            Once again, I'm not talking about medical claims. Cannabis never should have been added to schedule one in the first place. These are not 'products', these are plants.

          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @08:06PM

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @08:06PM (#396357) Journal

            If you want to grow Schedule I plants and fungi including cannabis, shrooms, peyote, (and soon) kratom in your own home, it is illegal. Forget importation or snake oil salesmen. You are not allowed to grow what you want, even if you have no intention of consuming or distributing it.

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          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:01PM

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:01PM (#396411) Journal

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/08/10/u-s-affirms-its-prohibition-on-medical-marijuana/ [washingtonpost.com]

            In the words of a 2015 Brookings Institution report, a move to Schedule II "would signal to the medical community that [the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health] are ready to take medical marijuana research seriously, and help overcome a government-sponsored chilling effect on research that manifests in direct and indirect ways."

            You want to prohibit people from selling it as a therapeutic drug? Use the FDA to do that but allow recreational sales. You want to do peer-reviewed research on this substance and other substances? Don't put it on Schedule I.

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          • (Score: 2, Interesting) by kurenai.tsubasa on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:42PM

            by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:42PM (#396431) Journal

            I don't know how to prove to you that you're objectively wrong about cannabis. However, I was being half serious in my other comment calling for the DEA to be investigated for not scheduling alcohol and nicotine. As far as kratom here, I have no idea honestly. I can't point to any personal experience or any actual data to make an argument one way or another whether it's harmful or beneficial. I've merely been trained by the propaganda machine that's filled your head with cargo cult science and lies to automatically assume the opposite of what the DEA is claiming is true.

            What we saw during alcohol prohibition was that prohibition itself made alcohol consumption trendy and more popular. I don't know that I exactly have proof that's at work with cannabis, nor do I expect it to exactly go that way because of how different cannabis is from alcohol. I can provide proof now that cannabis legalization does reduce opioid addiction.

            I understand you disapprove of religious types. You're taking a lot of your knowledge about cannabis on faith, and the more research pops up, the more you sound like a flat-Earther.

            In fact, if your goal really is harm reduction, I have a link for you. I'm sure you consider anything NORML publishes potheads trying to get their addictions legalized, but please at least read this opinion about Portugal's successful drug policy [norml.org]. I hope you'll at least consider that, as biased as the source I'm linking may be, there are objective numbers there that we simply cannot deny.

            Prohibition, unfortunately, like abstinence or fat shaming or what have you, is dynamite on paper, but it just simply doesn't work in the real world—if your goal is harm reduction.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by kurenai.tsubasa on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:09PM

          by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:09PM (#396263) Journal

          Same way they do everything else it seems: Because. They. Can.

          Doing some reading, the DEA seems to have linked deaths to the use of this one. As always, they'll give us the raw numbers to sound scary (deaths! [3 of them] hundreds needing medical care! [over a 5 year period]) but that's not epidemiology data.

          The evidence is beyond underwhelming. The only thing I've heard related to illegal, natural medicines that was more underwhelming was about the (two) deaths caused by cannabis edibles (and alcohol) in Colorado.

          As always, we're left to wonder about the legitimacy of the DEA when they still haven't put ethyl alcohol, tobacco, nutmeg, or datura (Jimsonweed) on schedule I and have refused to move cannabis to schedule II in light of evidence of legitimate medicinal uses. Preaching to the choir, but the DEA should be investigated for their failure to respond to the overwhelming evidence about at least ethyl alcohol and tobacco. I expect corruption charges against high ranking officials. Heads need to roll over the DEA's failure to act on alcohol and tobacco.

          I'd also like a pony.

          (I'm assuming if the 9th and 10th amendments don't fucking matter then the 21st amendment shouldn't fucking matter either. Ethyl alcohol used to have medicinal uses, but we have safer and more effective alternatives these days such as local anesthesia, etc.)

          • (Score: 2) by sjames on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:24PM

            by sjames (2882) on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:24PM (#396423) Journal

            Tobacco and ethanol do not belong on the list either. Both may be abused and there are certainly some people who should never touch ethanol, but both have long been used as part of the natural pharmacopoeia.

            It was recently discovered that nicotine is one of the very few substances that can treat the negative symptoms of schizophrenia (it was the only one at the time of 'discovery'). Tobacco macerated and applied topically to a sprain works wonders.

            The DEA needs to just go away, period. The FDA needs to be broken apart and re-built from scratch, preferably as a purely advisory organization.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bziman on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:40PM

    by bziman (3577) on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:40PM (#396161)

    And like most big businesses, Big Pharma has a government agency to protect their cartel against any potential cheaper alternatives.

    Of course this probably isn't just Big Pharma. The tobacco (and alcohol, to a lesser extent) industry won't tolerate anything that might be used recreationally, and big defense won't tolerate anything that might lead to the demilitarization of the police.

    So anything new that might be useful or fun is going to be stonewalled.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Gravis on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:12PM

    by Gravis (4596) on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:12PM (#396271)

    Mitragyna speciosa, also known as ketum or kratom,[2] is a tropical deciduous and evergreen tree in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) native to Southeast Asia in the Indochina and Malaysia phytochoria (botanical regions). M. speciosa is indigenous to Thailand where it has been used in traditional medicine.[3]

    Little research has been done on the health effects and it has no approved medical uses.[4][5] Some people use it for managing chronic pain, opioid withdrawal, or recreationally.[6][4] Effects last for between two and five hours.[4] Kratom use is not detected by typical drug screening tests, but its metabolites can be detected by more specialized testing.[7][8]

    Minor side effects may include itchiness, vomiting, and constipation.[4] More severe side effects may include a decreased effort to breathe, seizure, addiction, and psychosis.[4] Other side effects include high heart rate and blood pressure, liver toxicity, and trouble sleeping.[9][10] Naloxone may be used to treat an overdose that results in a reduced effort to breathe.[4] In the United States between 2014 and 2016, 15 deaths have been associated with kratom use.[9] Though not an opiate itself, kratom is thought to behave similarly to an opiate like morphine.[5]

    -- wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 02 2016, @12:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 02 2016, @12:02AM (#396466)

      While its not a traditional opiate like morphine, it is indeed an opioid with activity at the mu-opioid receptor. Mitragynine and its metabolites are full mu-agonists, like morphine, however its activity at other opioid receptors changes its pharmacological profile substantially. Its generally accepted that kratom doesn't cause hypoventilation or bradycardia like other traditional opioids would when taken in high amounts. This results in an astoundingly high therapeutic index for an opioid. Kratom can still be addictive however and can cause withdrawal symptoms when its is stopped after an extended period of use. Its quite saddening to hear it being moved to schedule I however. Many heroin and prescription painkiller addicts use kratom as a stepping stone to get off opioids entirely. The only thing making kratom illegal will do is create a new class of criminals for the justice system to hoover up into private prisons. People who are currently on kratom may move to harder opioids to stop the withdrawal while users of those harder opioids won't have the opportunity to use kratom to ease their way do if they wanted to. This is NOT the solution to the opioid addiction epidemic this country seems to be suffering from. Treatment programs and medications that ACTUALLY WORK (hint, get MC-18 onto the goddamn market already) are the only way to combat opioid addiction. You will never get rid of the heroin or destroy the market for diverted painkillers. The DEA has its head so far up its ass though, so real changes aren't coming anytime soon.

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @06:31PM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @06:31PM (#396305) Journal

    The White House petition was over 24k when I submitted the story. Now it's at 31,674.

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    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @11:42PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @11:42PM (#396456) Journal

      34,662. Decent progress for 5 hours, and they have the rest of the month. They might just do it.

      Only to be answered with a condescending and half-assed response, and for the DEA plan to go unopposed.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by nyder on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:45PM

    by nyder (4525) on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:45PM (#396343)

    Drug ENFORCEMENT Agency. Enforcement, not lawmaking. That is the problem right there. The DEA should not be allowed to make laws, to decide what is legal or not legal. They should just be following the laws congress makes. Yet they are making laws and deciding what is legal and not legal. Which is stupid. If left to the DEA, everything will become illegal so they can make money off of it, just like they are making money today off of illegal stops (by taking money/assests from people without trials.

  • (Score: 1) by Fauxlosopher on Friday September 02 2016, @02:06AM

    by Fauxlosopher (4804) on Friday September 02 2016, @02:06AM (#396514) Journal

    The DEA and the rest of the US fedgov cannot legally exist without the US Constitution. The US Constitution's sole source of legitimate authority is that which is delegated to it by We the People. Authority not already possessed cannot be delegated.

    Since I don't have the authority as an individual to grab my gun and kill (or kidnap, etc.) my neighbor over his possession of [tree], [weed], or [element], neither can I delegate such authority to any government. If government agents kill/kidnap/etc. people over possession of such things regardless, they are literal criminals for doing so regardless of any "laws" in the books. (Any law in contradiction with the Constitution is as void as if it had never been passed at all.)

    The DEA is literally a criminal gang no different in principle than the other drug gangs like MS-13. [soylentnews.org]