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Kratom comes from a tree, Mitragyna speciosa, that is native to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. It has gained a following in the United States only recently, hawked by online merchants and head shops as an herbal medicine, “dietary supplement,” or legal high. As far as the DEA is concerned, the fact that people in other countries have used kratom for centuries to ease pain, boost work performance, and wean themselves from opiate addiction counts for nothing. All the DEA needs to know is that our shores have been invaded by a foreign drug that is increasingly popular among Americans as a home remedy and recreational intoxicant. From the DEA’s perspective, that is intolerable, regardless of the drug’s benefits.
Most recently, 2014 has seen the highest number of drug overdose deaths on record, reaching nearly 50,000 in a single year.4 Opioids – which may include both prescription pain relievers and heroin – have accounted for 61% of all drug overdose deaths in this same year.
t systematic reviews of hospital charts found that even properly prescribed drugs (aside from misprescribing, overdosing, or self-prescribing) cause about 1.9 million hospitalizations a year.
According to the DEA, 15 deaths in the United States between 2014 and 2016 were caused by kratom.