The DEA has backed off a controversial plan to classify the relatively unknown herbal supplement kratom as a Schedule I substance, saying it wants to seek more feedback on the issue, NPR reports. Schedule I substances are classified as dangerous, ripe for abuse, and without recognized medical use—claims that kratom users say just aren't true. Kratom, derived from a plant native to Southeast Asia, has long been used as a medicine in Asian cultures. In recent years, it has gained popularity in the US among a small but dedicated community, many of whom use it as an alternative painkiller and a way to wean off addictive and dangerous opioids.
Kratom advocates cheered the DEA's decision to solicit further feedback before making a decision on regulating the drug. Susan Ash, the founder of the American Kratom Association, told the Huffington Post, "We believe kratom should not be scheduled in any way, shape, or form," adding that there was "no impetus to make it a controlled substance." The DEA said backlash from users and researchers prompted the agency to review its decision—an "unprecedented" step for the drug agency to take, per the Huffington Post. The public has six weeks to submit stories and testimonials for the DEA to consider in its scheduling decision.