By Mark Ackerman
WASHINGTON, DC (CBS4) – Amid protests and pressure from Congress, the Drug Enforcement Agency has not yet labeled the drug kratom a Schedule I drug.
Kratom comes from a tropical tree in Southeast Asia, which can be ingested in pill, powder or liquid form, and has been growing in popularity in Colorado in recent years.
After a 30-day waiting period, Friday was the first day the DEA could have imposed the temporary ban on kratom, but despite labeling kratom an “imminent hazard to public safety” that did not happen immediately.
On Aug. 30, the DEA announced its intent to make kratom illegal on par with heroin, LSD and ecstasy. The DEA cited 15 kratom-related deaths in the past three years as part of its reasoning. In response, the Denver Department of Environmental Health forced 15 local retailers to pull kratom products from their shelves.
Over the last month, Kratom users have staged protests in Washington, DC and at state capitols across the country.
At a demonstration last week in Denver, people said using kratom helped them stop using harder drugs.
Russ Baer of the DEA’s public affairs office in Washington says the Agency has also received a letter signed by 50 members of the House of Representatives asking to gather more input before taking action on kratom. The DEA says it has also received letters in support of banning kratom.
“We have not set a date yet,” said Baer. “It’s not a matter of if, but when. My sense is it will be sooner than later.”