CRE Open Letter to Ms. Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to President Obama

Publishers Note: CRE very much appreciates the insights our readers have displayed in their comments and are transmitting them to Administration officials.

Ms. Valerie B. Jarrett

Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

Re: CRE’s Creation of a Kratom Scheduling Docket

Dear Ms. Jarrett:

In his Open Government Directive,[1] President Obama called for creating and institutionalizing a “Culture of Open Government.” The President explained that to

create an unprecedented and sustained level of openness and accountability in every agency, senior leaders should strive to incorporate the values of transparency, participation, and collaboration into the ongoing work of their agency.

Last month, however, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a Notice of Intent to place the widely used dietary supplement kratom (mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine) into schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Thus, without any opportunity for public participation, DEA will be criminalizing a substance that is not only widely used in the United States but also is used in and will continue to be legal in Canada and Mexico.

Read Complete Letter

47 comments. Leave a Reply

  1. Andres V.

    Yes, let’s exercise an open and transparent government with due process of law. Let’s also implement checks and balances so that the entity that enforces the law does not unilaterally create the law. Thank you Mr. Tozzi for promoting an open and transparent government with checks and balances.

  2. A

    Thank you Mr. Tozzi. I am amazed the DEA could ban a plant with no oversight or public comments required! That is not democracy.

  3. Bethany Hudson

    Kratom is an herb. Not a drug. Drugs hurts people. Kratom helps people. I am a life long sufferer of S L E…for the last 4 years my quality of life is better than it has ever been. I am a mom, I work 50+ hours a week and not a single person is being hurt by me drinking a tea that has gotten me off the couch. I am for the first time someone I am proud of and I feel decent. I am by no means ever high or impaired. Kratom is a gift

  4. Anonymous

    Please don’t take kratom away from us … We need it to help us get around better. It’s a plant and has no side affects like the norco and other bad drugs do. It just helpls manage pain and helps us rest. That’s the best part about it. I am begging you to reconsider what you are thinking about doing here.

  5. Unhappy Citizen

    Id hate to image what other rights Americans are in line to lose right now due the slight-of-hand government agencies. Its only due to the angry and dedicated Kratom community that this has managed to come to light. Very sad state of affairs.

  6. Jeremy gould

    A pain reliever, to treat PTSD , anti anxiety, opiate addiction treatment, and many many other positive uses. How could something with so much promise just be swept under the rug in all of our faces? DEA wants to Schedule 1 Kratom , and act like it has ZERO health benefits. We are not going to just stand around on this one. Please.

  7. Dusty

    The DEA is showing a complete disregard for the laws that are in place, and also for the people whom they are supposed to protect. They are attempting to enact law without any solid reasoning, research, or oversight. This is a very slippery slope and precedent, and goes against any idea of transparency.

  8. Anonymous

    I have been taking Kratom to help with several life long health issues for three months. In this time frame my liver enzymes have decreased 400 points from years of taking prescription meds and Tylenol. My doctor knows that I am taking Kratom and is all for it and actually thanked me for educating her on it. I have been able to stop taking several prescribed medications to deal with my symptoms. I feel more alive and normal than I have since I was a small child. My pain is manageable and my anxiety is down. I ask that our government and the powers that be do the research and studies before banning this incredible supplement. There is no unmentioned threat that would warrant an emergency scheduling. Law enforcement needs to be battling the true killers such as heroin and not chasing happy productive people that are taking Kratom and actually more clear headed than those taking prescription drugs.

  9. Anonymous

    Why is the DEA focusing on kratom when there is an epidemic of heroin and phenibut abuse needing much more attention than this innocuous plant that is a member of the coffee family? Kratom has allowed me to successfully control my anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, which keeps me being a productive member of society. I can hold down a full-time job now with the help of kratom and there are none of the negative effects as those associated with opioids. No threat to society is attributable to kratom. None whatsoever! It is ridiculous that it is even being scrutinized at all.

    • Anonymous

      a high statistic of heroine users are people who were addicted to doctor prescribed Opiates. Once they don’t have access and doctors cut them off, they look for something to fill the void created by the Opiate addiction. Kratom helps people get off both RX Opiates and Heroine. Thus Pharmaceutical companies are not making as much profit. If we had the ability to follow the money, I would be gambling on my suspicion that Pharma paid the DEA big bucks to try to ban Kratom, and they knew how many people were probably using it to get off the drugs that they KNOW are killing people and addicting people. From what we are seeing in the community, I would bet more people left addition in favor or kratom than people left the addiction by way of death, though there were over 14k.

  10. Sarah Donahoe

    If kratom goes away, people in my community will fall victim to opiate overdose, imprisonment, and death. We need every tool available to us to keep people healthy and free of addiction. These are not the ramblings of string-out scofflaws; these are Americans trying desperately to stay alive, well, and productive. A ban on this plant will give a signal that unless the pharmaceutical companies can make money on American suffering, then it doesn’t matter. Please continue to protect Americans by refusing to support a ban on this life changing therapy.

  11. debra peterson

    Yes! Please Ms. Jarrett, help us save this gentle herb. I do not want to return to pain filled days, too exhausted to even shower. Kratom allows me to function and be productive. I do not want to be a felon just because I want to have a life.

  12. Anonymous

    Yes, i was caught completely off guard by this proposed banned. I am a responsible, highly functional individual who obeys all laws. I am not sure why I should be punished because I found a plant that helps me cope with aches and pains. I am not a criminal or an abuser, -and I am in control. I am all so an adult and researched the potential consequences before taking this plant

  13. Phyllis

    Thank you Mr Tozzi. It would be pointless for me to list the 31 pharmaceuticals that I have experience with, because we all know that the entire focus here is to keep all of us, law abiding citizens, on as many of those big money making meds, as possible. Money is the name of the game. The greedy, selfish individuals that profit from us as long as they can keep us UNhealthy, will have to answer for their actions one way or another. It would take me hours to list all of my diagnoses and most of them have already been addressed in previous comments. I accepted years ago, that my daily life would consist of unrelenting pain, due to an S1 to T9 spinal fusion. But what I had not accepted and desperately longed for was my mental health and emotional state. I wanted to know what “normal” felt like. I wanted to be and feel normal. After years of anti depressants, anti anxiety meds, sleep meds, etc. left me in a coma and my 4 children almost lost their Mother, I’d had enough. I chose, without any help, to discontinue every single one of them. I believe I was actively taking 12 different ones at the time. For 6 years I just existed, literally. 2 years ago I began my quest for a more natural way of living and discovered Kratom. For the first time in my 50 years, I feel and I am, normal. The past 2 years have been the most enjoyable and fulfilling years of my life! My only regret is that my children missed out, all those years, on the “normal” Mom I am today! Shame on the DEA! What has happened to MY great country that I once was so proud to live in? What about MY rights and MY freedom? Why isn’t it MY choice to do and treat my body as I wish? Basically, what it boils down to is, the greedy, conniving politicians, pharmaceutical companies and government officials, actually own MY, this, body that I’ve been living in! I’m saddened and filled with grief, knowing this is the country I’m leaving to my children. I’m a disabled Mother, Grandmother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt and my name is Phyllis. Please help stop the ban on Kratom

  14. Rik

    I’m NOW a functioning adult. I have three beautiful children and an amazing husband. I’m a Kratom tea drinker. I have a plethora of diagnoses. The main ones are fibro, lupus, severe panic disorder, depression and spinal stenosis. I have arthritis in 5 places. I’m FORTY. I was dying slowly from 13 DIFFERENT meds. I couldn’t function, couldn’t be a “good” mom. An “ACTIVE”participant in these beautiful lives. I found Kratom, and IMMEDIATELY started researching. Still haven’t stopped! I’ve NEVER been a fan of pain pills, I refuse them due to having young children. I drink tea twice a day and I’m a FUNCTIONING, PRODUCTIVE ADULT. Of consenting age. PLEASE DON’T TAKE THIS AWAY. I’ll find a way to manage; a lot WON’T.

  15. Greg

    Thank you for the letter. Kratom I feel it has had such a positive impact on my life, I have managed to stay off heroin for over 3 years thanks to the herb and a lot of therapy. To me Kratom had way less side effects than Suboxone or Methadone, without the risk of respiratory depression. It has truly been a life saver for me, as much as I hate to admit it is the best defense I have against returning to hard drug use.

  16. Anonymous

    I am a recovering heroin addict who has been diagnosed with a variety of depression and anxiety disorders. Kratom has helped me treat these, with less side effects, than all of the mood stabilizers and anxiolytics I’ve ever been prescribed. My doctor says it seems to be working for me. Because of this herb I have been off opiates for six years, I have gone back to school and gotten a decent job as a health care professional, I have become a productive and supportive friend and family member. I have seen so many friends die in recent years from the fentanyl epidemic, if this plant is taken away I’ve no doubt the body count will increase. Six years of daily consumption with no ill effects other than mild constipation. There is no downside to having this plant available to those who need it. It’s absence, however, will be devastating.

  17. Sherry

    you for the letter. I’m 46 years old and have fibromyalgia, failed back syndrome from spinal fusion surgery, depression, anxiety, arthritis and bursitis. Automobile accidents caused the majority of my ailments. I have been in pain management, chiropractic, physical therapy and have had several injections and given several different prescription drugs including opiates. None of these things gave me significant relief, we’re costly, and the prescription drugs all gave me horrible side effects. I was looking for something natural that may help me and discovered kratom in a chronic pain support group. I did my research and decided to give kratom a try. I was and still am amazed at how much better I feel with kratom. I do not take any prescription drugs now and have not needed any additional injections since I started kratom. I have been taking kratom for over 2 years and I do not experience any negative side effects with kratom. Life without kratom will change dramatically and not for the better. Work, home and family will all suffer because I refuse to go back to prescription drugs. They’re simply not for me. They make me feel worse. There is absolutely no reason kratom should be placed as a schedule 1 drug! Frankly, I don’t know how the powers that be in the DEA can live with themselves taking away kratom from thousands of people who are helped by it. Why the rush to ban? This ban will hurt so many people and protect no one other than the pharmaceuti

  18. Danielle

    Thank you for the support from the CRE. The kratom community is not against regulation, for most places will not sell to anyone under 18 as it is. The devastation that will follow if the ban on kratom goes through would be exponential! All that we are asking for is due process, which we deserve. The DEA so sneakily trying to pass this ban is sad and an unfortunate representation of our governments agencies. We are everyday tax paying members of society that choose to consume kratom over prescription medication for many different reasons. Our reasons why should not matter. Personally, I cannot take pain medication because I’ve had negative effects from it in the past and this leaf is the only thing that I can consume without fear of losing my life that I fought so hard to get back 3.5 years ago. All these people have a quality of life that they want to live, rather than being slaves to pharmaceutical medication that makes us zombies. Don’t take this plant away. So many lives depend on it.

  19. Laura Seltzer

    Every single day the CRE comes out with something else that gives me hope. I am so incredibly angry about this proposed ban, I almost don’t know what to do with myself. I have been channeling my frustration and desperation to keep kratom legal into letter writing and emailing campaigns, commenting on every article and post I can find, talking to my friends and family and educating everyone I can.

    But the more I think about this, I just get so mad. I work at the Department of Human Services. I do not break the law, I used to make bad choices when I was younger, and since I started at my current job as a Case Management Coordinator over 3 years ago, I have had the positive experience of working with law enforcement almost every day of the week. I had to pass a background check to be hired at my job. I respect the law greatly, and one of the main reasons I chose kratom (like the hundreds of other people I have talked to in the kratom community) is because it is LEGAL.

    The DEA may think it’s as simple as choosing not to use kratom anymore if that ban goes into effect. They unilaterally decide it’s illegal, and somehow what used to be accepted and right, is now wrong? But I have two serious chronic illnesses that have been successfully treated with kratom for more than 8 years now. I can sleep at night and not crash my car when I’m driving because an RLS flare up happens all of a sudden, because my RLS is treated properly with kratom. I can focus at work because my RLS symptoms are under control. I can not wake up every morning sick to my stomach and throw up every day before I go to work, because my Irritable Bowel Syndrome disappears completely when I take kratom.

    What does the DEA expect us to do? They have put us between a rock and a hard place. Most kratom users respect the law like I do, and are not criminals. We don’t abuse illegal drugs, most of us don’t even drink alcohol or use other prescription drugs. We are moral, ethical people by and large. But we also have chronic illnesses that require treatment, and kratom is the only thing we have found that works, it has give us our lives back. That is why you will find such passion among us. We are literally fighting for our lives. I find it morally reprehensible that without asking the people that this will affect the most, that they can put honest and good Americans into a situation where we are FORCED to choose to break the law and commit a FELONY, or go back to being sick and miserable and unproductive all the time. What kind of country does that to its people?

  20. Anonymous

    Thank you Mr Tozzi. The foundation this proposed ban is base on is shaky at best. Kratom has proven itself to be beneficial to tens of thousands of people, with different health conditions and needs. For lack of a better term, it is a “one size fits all” way for us to treat ourselves without the nasty chemicals, horrible side effects and outrageous cost.No wonder the medical community wants to ban it!

  21. Anonymous

    Ms. Jarrett, I have never had so much faith in a President ever. When President Obama won the Presidency, I began to believe that all of us were equals. I believed that everybody had a chance to succeed in life. This Kratom ban has dealt a huge blow to my being. I am now worried, confused, and feel betrayed by my government. I am having trouble understanding why my government would ban a plant that has helped me tremendously with my anxiety and depression. I have always done the right thing and have always abided by all laws. I’ve never used illegal drugs and have never committed any crime. Now I am faced with a nightmarish predicament in which possession of Kratom tea will make me a felon. I am feeling scared because of this. Please help me. Please help us. We plead that you and President Obama become our salvation. Thank you so much for existing for us, the people.

  22. Laura Seltzer

    Every single day the CRE comes out with something else that gives me hope. I am so incredibly angry about this proposed ban, I almost don’t know what to do with myself. I have been channeling my frustration and desperation to keep kratom legal into letter writing and emailing campaigns, commenting on every article and post I can find, talking to my friends and family and educating everyone I can.

    But the more I think about this, I just get so mad. I work at the Department of Human Services. I do not break the law. Since I started at my current job as a Case Management Coordinator over 3 years ago, I have had the positive experience of working with law enforcement almost every day of the week. I had to pass a background check to be hired at my job. I respect the law greatly, and one of the main reason I chose kratom (like the hundreds of other people I have talked to in the kratom community), is because it is LEGAL.

    The DEA may think it’s as simple as choosing not to use kratom anymore if the ban goes into effect. They unilaterally decide it’s illegal, and somehow what used to be accepted and right, is now wrong? But I have two serious chronic illnesses that have been successfully managed with kratom for more than 8 years now. I can sleep at night and not crash my car when I”m driving because an RLS flare up happens all of a sudden, because my RLS is helped greatly by kratom. I can focus at work because my RLS symptoms are under control. I can not wake up every morning sick to my stomach and throw up every day before I go to work, because my Irritable Bowel Syndrome disappears completely when I take kratom.

    What does the DEA expect us to do? They have put us between a rock and a hard place. Most kratom users respect the law like I do, and are not criminals. We don’t abuse illegal drugs, most of us don’t even drink alcohol or use other prescription drugs. We are moral, ethical people by and large. But we also have chronic illnesses that require treatment, and kratom is the only thing we have found that works. It has given us our lives back. That is why you will find such passion among us. We are literally fighting for our lives. I find it morally reprehensible that without asking the people that this will affect the most, they can put honest and good Americans into a situation where we are FORCED to choose to break the law and commit a FELONY, or go back to being sick and miserable and unproductive all the time. What kind of country does that to its people??

  23. Anonymous

    Thank you CRE for standing up for what is honest and right. Having read through the above comments, I am struck by how many feel as I do, betrayed by my government. We are two weeks and counting and not a peep from those in power.

    Tonight I was so incredibly grateful to have my cup of kratom to relieve the ache and symptoms which build during a week of working long hours and parenting. Just like others who have commented, I have a chronic condition with pain and symptoms that medicine has failed to improve.

    Honestly, I don’t even remember what my life was like before I found kratom. But my family does very well. I cried this week when watching the story of another woman who had a video of what she was like in pain before she found kratom. My husband said that I was in that same level of pain, crying from the pain, bedridden for several years.

    Now I am terrified of returning to that state of being. This news of my treatment being taken away in a matter of days has me filled with fear. Do I have to face the choice of returning to this pain or living with the knowledge that the Feds could one day kick in my door and scare my family, take away my son’s mom, leave my students without their teacher? For what? For what I have been ingesting for over six years now that has given me back my life.

    What has hit me the most, however, is seeing the war veterans speaking out on YouTube about how kratom allows them to have manageable lives. These men and women sacrificed their well-being for our freedoms, and now they will no longer have the freedom to access their treatment of choice. They FOUGHT for this right. And now the DEA makes outrageously false claims about a safe, natural dietary supplement that has been used for centuries and can decide to change our laws on a whim, and Congress is silent? I am fast losing faith in my country. We are no longer free.

  24. Shannon

    I have been sober for three years now thank you kratom

  25. Anonymous

    Thank you for your efforts to open this DEA action for public comments. I am a retired veteran and former director in a large cultural institution, and I’ve been using kratom for over 5 years, with the consent of my doctors, to manage debilitating pain after numerous pharmaceuticals were either ineffective or had unacceptable side-effects. Kratom has given me my life back, and has even allowed me to resume physical activity with no impact on my balance, reflexes, or stamina (in fact, it gives me the stimulation of coffee while still helping me sleep). My condition also requires fairly regular testing and after daily use for such a long time there have been no detectable changes in blood chemistry or liver function. The DEA clearly has this one wrong, and I fear for the many users who may soon need to choose between more dangerous drugs or a life of pain. Thank you for speaking out on our behalf.

  26. George

    Thank you CRE for this letter. As you can see from the menu comments you have received the consumers of kratom are responsible adults that consume kratom fit various ailments. We are supposed to live in a democracy not a dictatorship. The DEA is trying to skirt the due process this issue warrants.

  27. Kristy anderson

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak out on our behalf. I have been drinking Kratom for almost 4 years now. I am a mother, a wife, and a very busy cosmetologist. I stand on my feet all day long. I work hard for everything I have and I have struggled for most of my life from a cheerleading accident that caused me a tremendous amount of pain. I have ruptured discs in my lower back and neck and sciatic nerve damage, degenerative disc disease, and carpel tunnel also. I know Kratom does not cure any of my prproblems, but it does lessen the pain and help me get through my long work days from doing hair to taking kids to football, basketball, volley ball practices, games and chasing around a toddler. It makes no sense that one day I can go to a health food store and buy an herbal supplement to the next thing I know they aren’t selling it anymore because the DEA has scheduled it to be a type 1 controlled substance within one month. Especially considering that Kratom is a plant related to the coffee family. Almost everyone in the world drink coffee… I can’t live without coffee. … And if the DEA made it illegal without any input from the community could you imagine how many people would be in shock. . Please don’t make Kratom a scheduled 1 controlled substance. This is going to effect a lot of hard working people that are just trying to make it through their days the best way they can without suffering more than they already have to… Thank you once again for listening to all of us that find this plant beneficial to our lives. Honestly I wished I would’ve known about it sooner in my life.

  28. Martha Sheehan

    The DEA seems to ban the items that it believes big business cannot make a giant profit from. I believe the DEA and the FDA have simply become an extension of “big pharma” and the “AMA . The time has come for these government organizations to be dismantled!

  29. Joe

    An administration which values open and transparent government should allow for public comment and coordination with those government agencies and foreign governments listed in the above letter. This extreme action by the DEA impacts far to many citizens of this country to continue with this hasty and ill-conceived ban. It criminalizes a large swath of the population of this country who are otherwise responsible and law abiding citizens, and creates a dangerous black market. This ban will have a negative impact on public and individual health. Please push back the proposed scheduling date until at least July 2017 and implement the recommendations of the CRE regarding public comment and inter-agency coordination as outlined in its letter of September 12 to acting DEA Administrator Charles Rosenberg. Thank you for your attention to my comments.

  30. Allyson

    I think the unintended consequence of a black market is absolutely a possibility if not actually guaranteed. There are so many people who use this plant for whatever purpose obviously the majority of people use it for medicinal purposes. The thing about this plant is it tastes awful so you must be pretty desperate to even try it. It is not the sort of thing that someone would partake in just to get “high” (unless completely desperate to do so) there must be a good reason.
    I am telling you the people who use it are desperate to relieve their pain of whatever sort and I feel 100% positive that they will do whatever it takes in order to obtain it if it were to become illegal in the United States and with two bordering countries that consider it legal it won’t be that hard to get. It will create more people in our legal system trying to fight for their rights and ultimately most likely losing to become a felon and a prison inmate.
    It is a travesty. It is totalitarian. It is unfortunately our government of the United States which I have always viewed (and was taught) is a democracy but of late certainly it’s not conducting itself as one.

  31. Anonymous

    The DEA has not thought all of the consequences of this action through. Banning kratom could indeed lead to a black market. Increasing the prison population with people who are not criminals. Lives will be lost. It will only lead to more harm than good. Kratom is not an immanent health threat. On the contrary, kratom being available is harm reduction. Furthermore, international implications of this ban were not even thought out. This ban could even create terrorism since relations with Indonesia will suffer. Indonesian farmers who made a living off of the kratom trade will now be disenfranchised, which leaves them more vulnerable to extremist ideology. This ban has far reaching implications, not only for the US citizens, but for the world. Not to mention that the DEA should not be making laws, especially when there is a public backlash demanding the ability to comment on this matter. Where is the due process? This goes against the constitution of the United States.

  32. Anonymiffed

    The DEA’S proposed ban on Kratom should be quashed in it’s entirety. In their proposal letter they are labeling Kratom as an Opioid, when scientifically Kratom is NOT an Opioid. They are also wrongly labeling Kratom as having no medicinal value by proposing their ban as a strict Schedule 1 ban.

    This entire secretive move on the DEA’S part closed to any comments from the public is highly suspicious. How is it that one man’s personal opinion has sweeping power over this? Either the DEA is highly ignorant, or lying, and if they are ignorant they should not be allowed to ban a naturally growing plant from others due to their own ignorance. The People have spoken.

    I personally don’t need any “peer reviewed” studies funded by pharmaceutical companies for profit as their own goal, to be told that Kratom has any medicinal value. At present I have thousands, possibly millions of “peers” as Kratom users testifying their own reviews to what huge health benefits Kratom has had in their own lives. Even without these peers I have my own peer review of me, myself, and I.

    Our country should be progressing, not be pulled backwards in time fighting ridiculous failed drug wars. Why are we even considering this? Kratom users are NOT drug addicts, they choose to use Kratom as a healthful alternative to health issues as opposed to dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, and dangerous drugs of any kind. This is a clear, logical and healthy choice that should never be taken away from anyone.

    Keep Kratom entirely legal!

  33. Anonymous

    The DEA has stated that placing kratom on schedule one is necessary to avoid an “imminent hazard to public safety”, yet with thorough research, I have seen no facts to back it up. They state the calls to poison control are concerning, yet when you compare the number of calls and outcomes of the calls to energy drinks and other legal products, the numbers of calls for kratom is very small, and most people who call simply have nausea or other benign effects of the tea. The number of people who drink kratom tea (it is a natural tea, not a drug as the DEA would like everyone to believe) is large, and I believe they, along with congress, should have a say in this action. The cost of enforcing laws against possession of a harmless tea is also a waste of the American people’s tax dollars that could be better spent battling the truly hazardous drugs (heroin, for example) that truly do plague society and kill people daily and increasing funding to public schools.

  34. August

    Ms. Valerie B. Jarrett – PLEASE consider what Jim Tozzi is outlining in this open letter. Don’t let the DEA unilaterally ban a helpful herb and take away countless Americans’ right to treat pain and other ailments holistically – especially without even allowing us to have a say in it. We are being silenced quite literally with lies – by a federal agency. That doesn’t illustrate open government whatsoever, and instead has created fear, anger, and confusion.

    As has been called out countless times in the last 15+ days since this DEA ban intent was announced – THERE IS NO IMMINENT DANGER with kratom, and everyone paying even 1% attention to logic, science, and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who consume it knows that. The DEA’s claims in calling kratom an opiate are flat out untrue – no matter how many times it is referred to as an opiate, it will still not be an opiate…nor can they prove it has been solely responsible for any deaths.

    My 75 year old mother has numerous ailments including what doctors call “fibromyalgia”, and they prescribed her opiates for years…she became a zombie, and also addicted to them. She used kratom to get completely off opiates – in days mind you – and then decided to tried medical marijuana to treat the pain (we are in Seattle, so that was an option). They gave her a prescription for it, but marijuana actually does get you “high”, and she didn’t like that. So she again tried kratom, and man…it just changed her life. She takes kratom as tea every day for the last four or five years – with no side effects. It minimizes her pain, but she’s still sharp as a whip mentally – at 75 years old. The addictive factor with kratom does exist, however it is so minimal – its like getting a caffeine addiction. If you suddenly stop, you feel lame for a few days, and then its gone – it is hardly worth mentioning – just like when people “kick” a coffee addiciton. So…the DEA’s claim that it is “highly addictive” and dangerous…come on.

    After my mom had such success with it, I tried some myself a few times just for the heck of it – hey guess what happened? I felt a little happier, my lower back didn’t ache as bad, and i cleaned my house. Tell me again how this is terribly destructive and some kind of societal scourge?

    If this is a democracy, then we should have ample time to be heard before a massive decision such as this is simply FORCED upon us. In short – don’t make my 75 year old mother go back on opiates by taking away the only other safe, natural alternative she has found – while simultaneously going on about the “opiate epidemic” in our country ( Postpone this DEA ban, allow our voices to be heard, and gather *scientific* evidence about this plant before any decision is made.

    Thank you,
    August in Seattle, WA

  35. Anonymous

    I’m in nursing school full time and work part time in a critical care unit in a hospital as a tech. I deal with sick, sometimes dying patients and their loved ones. This can obviously be emotionally stressful.
    Two years ago I was placed on a medical leave of absence from university and unemployed. I lived in my parent’s basement for two years with crippling anxiety and depression. I was diagnosed with treatment resistant depression and anxiety as nothing the doctor prescribed worked.
    Until I found kratom and now work in a hospital making great money with benefits and am in a prestigious nursing program. Kratom gave me my life back and without it, I’ll go back to where I was two years ago. Kratom cannot be banned. People’s live are quite literally on the line.

    -a soon to be unproductive citizen from New York, Long Island.

  36. David

    I have used Kratom for five years now, it was a godsend two years ago when I was suffering from depression and severe anxiety. Kratom is less addictive and safer than prescription pain medication, alcohol, even caffeine! Detractors claim it’s a dangerously addictive heroin-like substance. This couldn’t possibly be farther from the truth. Make the DEA get the facts – kratom is a coffee-like plant that most people brew as a tea. It is NOT an opiate, it is NOT heroin-like, and it’s far less dangerous than opiate pain killers which are dangerously addictive and completely legal. The DEA points to some 15 deaths in five years, and even those were from other mixed drugs. If a person puts cyanide in milk, drinks it and dies, was it the milk that killed him? Of course not. The presence of kratom in these deaths is coincidental at worst. Please Ms. Jarrett, I implore you to make the DEA see reason. If you ban kratom, you may as well ban all prescription pain killers, alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine too – kratom is safer and more effective than any of them. Thank you for reading and we all would appreciate your support.

  37. Anonymous

    I’m sure there are many members of the group with way more inspiring and long term stories but here’s mine. I’ve suffered from severe anxiety and depression my whole life. I’ve been on about every antidepressant, benzo, sleeping pill, etc. The side effects always seemed to outweigh the benefits because weight gain, lost libido, all gave me more things to be depressed about. I drank alot. Getting through my pregnancy med and alcohol free was the hardest thing i ever did. Using Kratom the past couple months has made me more productive, helped my moods giving me there patience to truly enjoy my son and not worry so much about the little things. And I remember every minute, no more getting black out drunk and losing chunks of time. I have no desire to drink. My son is 17 months old and while I never went back to the way things were before pregnancy the desire was still there but it’s gone now. I no longer take any antidepressants and rarely take my prescribed anxiety meds. I can now enjoy a headache from smiling too much as opposed to daily tension headaches. Kratom does not get me high or impair my judgement in any way. I want to be the best possible mother I can be for my son, not a depressed lump on the couch with no motivation.

  38. J

    In this CRE Open Letter to Ms. Valerie Jarrett, Customs and Border Patrol was mentioned:

    “Examples of parties who would be able to provide DEA with information to help it reach an informed decision on scheduling kratom include:
    Federal law enforcement agencies, such as Customs and Border Patrol… that would be given new enforcement responsibilities and understand the damage to our country from transnational criminal organizations.”

    I would like to bring up an issue that involves Customs and their current enforcement practices. First, it seems odd that Customs would have any useful information to provide the DEA to help them reach an informed decision. Instead, Customs seems to act on their own by using other agencies’ stances without actual participation. In other words, if an agency has the stance that something is harmful to public health, Customs will immediately take such agency’s word as “gospel” – Customs appears to take no part in collaboration with any federal agencies other than the DEA and FDA – they are strictly an enforcement arm.

    As an example, Customs has recently been acting hastily (and potentially illegally) upon the DEA’s proposed ruling in regards to Mitragyna speciosa (“kratom”) imports. The day that the DEA’s proposed ruling was published, Customs has been holding shipments of legal material and informing exporters that the reasoning is simply that “the DEA prohibits it”! While the seizure of legal shipments for no good reason has been happening for many years, this latest overreach in authority by the DEA is already immediately being enforced by another federal agency (Customs) with no collaboration or checks and balances with or by other agencies. It’s not even illegal material, yet the DEA has instructed Customs to detain shipments. How is that action legal?

    Additionally, the banking sector is rampantly terminating accounts of merchants who legally engage in commerce as a result of the DEA’s “Notice of intent”. If this proposed ruling becomes delayed or overturned, who will be responsible for the losses incurred because of an accidental or premature intention to place this material in Schedule I? The DEA has already admitted they don’t believe “kratom” qualifies for Schedule I criteria. They acknowledged the medicinal value just recently. Only through the possibility of an “imminent health hazard to the public” claim was the DEA able to initiate the notice if intent to temporarily place “kratom” into Schedule I. Given that this whole ordeal was prematurely initiated, and because the DEA’s initial reasonings for justifying such expedited Scheduling is now being rescinded (see latest comments from DEA Spokesman Melvin Patterson), the DEA has now become a liability. Businesses have already been highly affected financially and inventory-wise simply because the DEA falsely portrayed “kratom” as being such an imminent health threat when our own government funding has already proven otherwise. In short, the DEA’s action had immediately led to enforcement by Customs and banks, which neither collaborated with other federal agencies. Customs and banks are simply treating the DEA’s stance as if it were LAW. In effect, the DEA, an enforcement branch of our government, has created law without any review or comments from any other federal agency. Worse, HHS simply did not object to the DEA’s intent to schedule “kratom”. HHS simply turned her head the other way without any participation, becoming an enabler.

    There are serious problems here that need to be investigated immediately. All businesses in this industry (and many of its customers) are anticipating the worst 4th Quarter in its history because multiple federal agencies lack transparency and did not consult with other federal agencies for conflicts. If any collaboration or participation was done here, it was not for public benefit. The idea that this widely used botanical specimen has a high potential of harming public health after the US government has already established a lack of hazard truly evidences interagency conflicts. We the People demand that the proposed ruling of this proven safe (by NIH, NIDA, University of Massachusetts, University of Mississippi, USDA, botanical be immediately delayed or overturned to prevent an imminent, detrimental impact to the welfare of the public.

    We would appreciate any assistance by the CRE in directly contacting Customs, the FDA, and the banking sector to remediate the dire situation that has resulted from the DEA’s unwarranted “Notice of intent”.

    • J

      It should also be noted that importers are often sent letters from HHS when imports are seized at our ports of entry. HHS needs to be investigated too.

  39. Cheryl Clark

    I am writing in reference to the potential upcoming Kratom. If this ban goes through, it will negatively affect the health and well being of millions of Americans who use this tea as a remedy for various illnesses and issues. We do not want to pollute our bodies with the synthetic chemicals put out by the drug companies, and for most, that would be the only other alternative available. Please help us stop the ban on Kratom. It’s just a simple leaf, slightly stronger than coffee. We the people need for you to do the right thing, help us stop the ban on Kratom.

  40. Shannon

    I never get involved, stick to myself usually but one thing I am adamant about is Keeping kratom legal!!!!! I am a success story to this wonderful plant! I was an opioid zombie for 6 years, OD’d 3x!! By the grace of god, My own Doctor told me about kratom cause he knew I was not gonna live much longer!! I was skeptical and was terrified of the pain I would feel being off of opioids! Fast foward… I gave it a shot and NEVER LOOKED BACK!! 3 years off opioids and NO PAIN!!! This plant can help millions!! Let us have our right to chose what we want!! With 33 of my friends who have died from prescription overdoses, It kills me that the DEA wants to take the one thing away from me that SAVED MY LIFE!!!

  41. Eamon

    I’d like to state my opinion: kratom is not a dangerous chemical. It is NOT a “legal high” any more than coffee is. It has what is known as “plateau effects” which is caused by the poor binding efficiency to receptors. Now, I know eyes will glaze over as soon as they see the word opioid-receptor (if anyone even looks at this letter), BUT the primary receptor that is stimulated is the kappa-opioid receptor, one of the many permutations found within our body (Thongpradichote, 1998). This IS NOT the same receptor that diacetyl-morphine (heroin) stimulates, which is the mu-opioid receptor. So, this plateau effect means that only so many poorly binding molecules can activate the receptors, regardless of how high a dose a person takes.
    As a matter of fact, once you’ve taken a large dose, it begins to act on other systems, which in turn DECREASE the effects felt. Additionally, an excessively large dose makes the individual feel nauseous and have what is called the “wobbles,” which is a sensation of nystagmus. This doesn’t really impair one, other than the obvious: do not operate heavy machinery or drive; instead, it makes you feel ill for up to 30 minutes before going away. From such a dose, one realizes that they don’t want to consume servings that size. Due to this fact, addiction risk is minimized, and withdrawals (obviously vary per person) are minimal if at all existent. They consist of feeling a bit lethargic for 2-4 days, similar to not having had your morning cup of coffee, you might also have an extra bowel movement a day during those days, and you might feel a bit restless. Kratom was actually found to have “had no opiatelike dependence syndrome” (Jansen, 1988) when being tested for use as an analgesic in the 1980’s.
    What we truly need is our excellent government to represent our interests and offer us protections from people trying to make money, not the parenting of the DEA giving us ultimatums on a “poorly” researched compound. For example, when people realize they can make a quick buck, they will sell anything as was the case with 9 deaths. These folks ingested unknown quantities of a “legal high” product called Krypton, which was mainly the schedule 2 substance from the painkiller Tramadol, mixed with kratom. Tramadol has been long known to cause seizures in humans and is reserved for veterinary purposes, and for individuals who cannot handle opiate narcotics. These 9 individuals had blood concentrations of the active compound in kratom of 0.02 – 0.18 micrograms per gram of blood. The “recreational levels” serum blood levels are 10 – 50 micrograms per gram of blood (Kronstrand, 2011). Think about those numbers; the people who died due to the tramadol, the scheduled narcotic compounds had 100 – 1000 times lower levels (just shift the decimal place over until the numbers fall into the recreational range) of kratom’s active compounds in their blood than they should have to be getting the minimal “recreational” effects. It is obvious that this substance had little to do with these deaths…Due to people who create these awful, deceitful, and harmful blends of synthetic narcotics with the natural ground leaves of the kratom tree, a handful of individuals have had negative side effects (although the deaths pale in comparison to other household products, like laundry detergent pods, which had over 7,000 poision control calls during the 6-month period leading up the DEA’s announcement, while kratom and all these “dirty” mixtures totaled around 300 calls during the two-year period that the DEA cites).
    What we need is for the FDA to regulate the purity and quality of these herbal supplements. Let’s regulate and tax this supplement so that the people who consume this substance will be safe. As unfortunate as it is, banning it by scheduling this substance will halt research. We have seen it again and again, when something is scheduled, research halts, regulation halts, and the only thing that takes place is the marginalization and incarceration of the poor and people of color. Alternatively, we could schedule laundry detergent pods…
    Jansen, K. L., & Prast, C. J. (1988). Psychoactive properties of mitragynine (kratom). Journal of psychoactive drugs, 20(4), 455-457.
    Kronstrand, R.; Roman, M.; Thelander, G.; Eriksson, A. (2011). “Unintentional Fatal Intoxications with Mitragynine and O-Desmethyltramadol from the Herbal Blend Krypton”. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 35 (4): 242–7. doi:10.1093/anatox/35.4.242. PMID 21513619
    Thongpradichote, S., Matsumoto, K., Tohda, M., Takayama, H., Aimi, N., Sakai, S. I., & Watanabe, H. (1998). Identification of opioid receptor subtypes in antinociceptive actions of supraspinally-admintstered mitragynine in mice. Life Sciences, 62(16), 1371-1378.

  42. Francisco Soler

    How can something that helps millions of people from chronic pain, depression and addiction to opioids be alongside heroin and cocaine according to the DEA? Kratom took me out of a 10 Year addiction to opioids and alcohol! banning is just the wrong decision especially without scientific research.

    • Anonymous

      The scientific and Federally funded research showing safety is already out there in the usual channels that DEA has access to (, simple Google searches). The DEA simply did not cite the PLETHORA of research that has already been done on this tree while cherry-picking data detrimental to our cause. They basically went the route of sensationalism and yellow journalism. A patent for Speciofoline goes back to August 10th, 1964, and then several other patents have been researched over the last decade, and patents filed recently (TRV734, MGM-9, MGM-15, MGM-16, PZM21).

      This 100ft tall tree helps people with way more than just pain, addiction, and depression. Most people found relief from asthma, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, nausea, IBS, diarrhea, sinus infections, cold/flu, MS, MCS, heartburn, Lyme Disease, fibromyalgia… the list is seemingly much longer than the benefits for MJ’s.

  43. Rachel M

    One of the fallacies being perpetuated by the DEA involves the potential dangers of kratom. These claims have been investigated by hard core medical journalists – myself included – and have been reported repeatedly in Forbes, Huffington Post, Newsweek, the Washington Post, and other credible media outlets. The 14 alleged deaths from “kratom” clearly involved patients under the influence of multiple drugs; indeed, no hard science establishes a causal relationship and it’s clearly bad science to render judgement accordingly. 660 ER admissions from claimed kratom toxicity (a minute fraction of the total admissions resulting from other substances such as soap, aspirin, vitamin overdoses, energy drinks, to name a few) filtered down to only 7% that supposedly presented with symptoms that *could* be classified as “life threatening” but which did not pan out as *actual* life-threatening events. In fact, countless admissions to the ER everyday stem from over use of caffeine, alcohol, energy drinks and a myriad of others entities – but of course – these substances are not considered eligible for scheduling as level 1 narcotics. Incidentally, Tylenol literally results in 150 cases of liver failure yearly, causing death, but one stumbles over packages of tylenol in seemingly every shelf in one’s local supermarket or pharmacy. Yet Tylenol remains legal, accessible and profitable to Americans choosing to purchase it. Another matter involves regulation or lack thereof regarding kratom, as noted by the DEA. But just how many substances ARE truly regulated by the FDA in the United States? Are all the coffees, teas, herbs, and supplements sold in this country strictly regulated? Indeed, Consumer Labs and other independent testing agencies often find herbs and supplements not to contain the exact dosages of products advertised among other issues, and yet kratom becomes single handedly cherry picked as the worst possible plant in America next to heroin and ecstasy? Pardon my dismay and cynicism, but this is hypocrisy at its abysmal worst, and is certainly cause to feel disgusted about one’s government. Please DEA, don’t treat we in the public like ignorant school children, and stop this madness.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed! One would think that the DEA and HHS don’t have internet connections to research studies and toxicology/medical-examiner reports! Either they are FAR behind the times with flickering-fluorescent-lit offices finished with formica wood grain walls… or they just thought they could slip this proposed ruling in with no consequence.

      Interestingly, the DEA published the proposed ruling to place this plant in Schedule I a week before U-47700 had its own proposed ruling published! They rushed to ban a plant that is proven by our own government as safe BEFORE proposing to ban the synthetic drug found in the cocktail that killed Michael Jackson! I never heard of U-47700 until the DEA mentioned it, but it apparently is more of a threat to public health if it was actually blamed for his death. It is so obvious what is going on here. We all demand investigations ASAP!

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