Dear Colleague Pocan and LoBiondo co sponsor a letter to the DEA on kratom 12.2017


Join Reps. Mark Pocan and Frank LoBiondo in Urging the Drug Enforcement Agency to Utilize All Available Scientific Evidence When Making Final Scheduling Decisions on Kratom.

Dear Colleague:
I invite you to join us in sending a bipartisan letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency to encourage them to employ all the available scientific information on kratom before making any final decisions on the scheduling of this natural product under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Last year, the DEA attempted to expedite scheduling of kratom as a Schedule I substance without any public comment or input. A group of 50 bipartisan Members of Congress urged them to halt the expedited process to ensure that the public and scientists were able to provide comment and input before this significant decision was made. Ultimately, the DEA heard Congress’ concerns and pulled the expedited schedule.

Now, the DEA has used the formal process to analyze whether kratom should be on listed under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Kratom is not an opioid, it is a natural supplement made from the leaves of a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia and a relative of the coffee plant. Kratom leaves are often brewed like a tea, or crushed and mixed with water. In the U.S., kratom has been used as an herbal supplement by consumers for managing their personal health and well-being. Numerous scientific studies, including studies funded by the NIH, have shown the addiction potential for kratom is substantially lower than that of “narcotic-like opioids” and it does not produce the deadly respiratory depressant effects that is the primary cause of opioid overdose deaths.

As our country continues to deal with the damage and pain the opioid crisis is causing our communities, it is important to consider all scientific research that has been conducted on the use and safety of kratom. To date, the FDA public health advisory of kratom encouraged the public to “conduct the research that will help us better understand kratom’s risk and benefit profile.”  However, should the DEA schedule kratom through the CSA, it will greatly reduce the public’s ability to conduct this important research. We remain concerned that any scheduling of kratom would likely “create a substantial illicit market” where consumers would be put at significant safety risks, or drive consumers to the dangerously addictive and potentially deadly use of opioids.

Please join us in this effort to ensure the DEA takes into all available scientific evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of kratom. We need to continue to conduct research and find innovative treatments for individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions—a significant public health threat.

If you have questions or would like to sign on to the letters, please contact Leslie Zelenko in Rep. Mark Pocan’s office at 202-225-2906 or Eric Arndt in Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s office at 202-225-6572.

Mark Pocan Frank A. LoBiondo

1 Kruegel AC and Grundmann O. The medicinal chemistry and neuropharmacology of kratom: A preliminary discussion of a promising medicinal plant and analysis of its potential for abuse. Neuropharmacology. 2017 Aug 19.

2 Kruegel AC, Gassaway MM, Kapoor A, Váradi A, Majumdar S, Filizola M, Javitch JA, Sames D. Synthetic and receptor signaling explorations of the mitragyna alkaloids: Mitragynine as an atypical molecular framework for opioid receptor modulators. J Am Chem Soc. 2016 Jun 1;138(21):6754-64.

3 Federal Drug Administration. “Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. on FDA advisory about deadly risks associated with kratom” November 14, 2017.

Member of Congress Member of Congress
The Honorable Robert Patterson
Administrator (Acting)
Drug Enforcement Administration
U.S. Department of Justice
8701 Morrissette Drive
Springfield, VA 22152
December X, 2017


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