WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hundreds of Americans from across the U.S. will march outside the White House at 12:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday (September 13, 2016) to protest the unfounded and anti-scientific push by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to classify kratom, a natural herb in the coffee family, as a Class 1 narcotic. Organizers of the March will hold a news conference in Lafayette Park near the White House to present the White House with a petition signed by more than 100,000 citizens opposing the DEA's cynical attack on a legal product that is used without incident by hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Under fire for failing to make headway in the opioid epidemic, the DEA is now seeking to distract the public and lawmakers by focusing unwarranted negative attention on kratom, or Mitragyna speciose, a tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia. Kratom leaves have been consumed in countries like Thailand and Malaysia for over 500 years. The herb is now available in the U.S. just like other herbal supplements. Kratom is not an opiate. Many studies have shown kratom to have positive medicinal benefits. Kratom is legal in 44 states. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released a December 2015 report that found: "Kratom does not currently constitute a significant risk to the safety and welfare of Florida residents." Nonetheless, on August 31, 2016, the DEA, under fire for its inability to remedy the US opioid crisis, announced its intention to place kratom into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in order to avoid a supposed "imminent hazard to public safety," which, in reality, does not exist. In truth, kratom has never been present alone in a single documented death and is as about as habit-forming as the coffee to which it is related. By contrast, pharmaceutical drugs are one of the leading causes of death in this country, killing one American every 19 minutes. Prescription opiate pain killers account for more than 475,000 emergency room visits annually.