Kratom is a plant grown in Southeast Asia that has gained popularity in the U.S. for its alleged healing properties, including its use as an aid in opiate withdrawal.
In 2017, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced plans to ban kratom and to list it as a Schedule 1 substance – treating it the same as LSD, heroin or ecstasy.
After a public outcry, the agency changed its mind and established a comment period for the public to weigh in on how kratom should be treated. That period expired in December 2017.
The FDA has now announced that kratom is, in itself, a dangerous opioid. The agency says that there is no evidence that kratom is useful as an addiction treatment, and that it has been linked to 44 deaths. The FDA's action is seen as an effort to persuade the DEA to ban the substance.
Some states have already banned kratom, including Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.