Heroin, marijuana, LSD, and ... kratom? The latter is a plant native to southeast Asia, and it's about to join the others on the most restrictive drug classification list in the US. The DEA said this week that kratom—specifically its active ingredients, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine—will become a Schedule 1 drug, reports STAT News. The agency can take such action for two years if it deems a drug to be a public threat. At low dosages, kratom tends to behave like a stimulant, but at higher doses it is reported to behave much like opioids and dull pain, reports CNN. Because kratom has long been considered an herbal supplement—and it's a popular one at that—FDA efforts to curb its use and regulate its contents have been restricted.
Several times more potent than morphine, it "dulls pain very well," one researcher tells CNN. "You can have very, very good analgesia." Citing issues of dependence, abuse, negative side effects, and a lack of regulation of anything from dose to actual ingredients, the DEA says the two-year classification goes into effect in late September. The classification could become permanent if research in the interim warrants it. Many are crying foul, with the Huffington Post reporting that advocates see kratom as a potential solution to the nation's opioid addiction. A post at Forbes, meanwhile, notes that Schedule I classification will limit future research on the plant. (Marijuana, meanwhile, is to remain Schedule I for the foreseeable future.)