DEA plan to ban plant substance popular with veterans called 'insane'
WASHINGTON — The Drug Enforcement Administration has received a torrent of backlash from patients with chronic pain and former opiate users after announcing plans to ban kratom, a plant gaining popularity across the United States for its opiate-like effects.
Kratom, which originates in Southeast Asia, has become more widespread in the United States in the past decade, fueled by online testimonials from users and a lack of federal regulation. Advocates say the plant - typically crushed and mixed or brewed with water - poses few health risks while helping users relieve severe pain and overcome addictions to powerful prescription painkillers.
A DEA spokesman told The Washington Post that the agency has received a surprising number of comments about the ban and could ease the restrictions after further research.
The Food and Drug Administration began seizing some kratom shipments from overseas in 2014. This summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that annual calls to poison-control centers related to kratom use jumped from 26 in 2010 to 263 in 2015. States have been quietly banning the substance: Alabama and Arkansas outlawed it earlier this year, joining four others — Indiana, Wisconsin, Vermont and Tennessee — according to the American Kratom Association.
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