By Toby Sells
on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 2:14 PM
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Crowder hold up a glass of kratom tea in his video "Talkin Bout Drugs."
Kratom won’t (yet) be listed alongside illegal drugs like heroin and LSD and at least two Tennesseans — Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen and Trae Crowder (aka the Liberal Redneck) — are happy about that.
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Kratom is a mind-altering substance derived from a tropical tree. It’s not illegal and has been easy to order on the internet in recent years, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
But kratom was slated to be outlawed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and listed on the Schedule I, alongside heroin and other drugs, at the end of September.
But the DEA has backed down on the move, noting it “has received numerous comments from members of the public challenging the scheduling action and requesting that the agency consider those comments and accompanying information before taking further action.” The move was listed in Federal Register Thursday.
So, the DEA has delayed the act and will, instead, begin a period of public comment on the drug that ends in December.
Cohen signed a later with other members of Congress asking the DEA to delay its decision on kratom. He said Thursday he was “pleased to hear” the announcement and that a public comment period will give “citizens a voice in this discussion.”
Cohen said the DEA’s scheduling decisions can be misguided and “we only have to look at the current status of marijuana” for evidence.
“When marijuana was placed on Schedule I, it was supposed to be temporary until the science was in, that was 1970,” Cohen said in a statement Thursday. “The science has been in for a long time, and keeping marijuana on Schedule I — with heroin and LSD — is ludicrous. Accurate scientific findings, in addition to public comment, need to guide the DEA’s decision-making process.”
Across the state, Trae Crowder was also celebrating the DEA’s decision. The Knoxville comedian tweeted Wednesday, “I can’t believe the DEA has listened to the people.”
Crowder’s character, the “Liberal Redneck,” ranted against the DEA’s Schedule I decision in a September YouTube video called “Talkin Bout Drugs.” In it, Crowder lifts a small glass of green liquid.
“This is kratom,” he says.
He says it’s a tea made from the leaves of a plant related to coffee that has been consumed for hundreds of years.
“It’s the only tea I fuck with that you can’t get at a chicken buffet,” Crowder said.
Kratom hits some of the same parts of the brain that opiates do, Crowder explains. That’s why some addicts have been using it to try to get off the “hard shit,” he says, and that doesn’t sit well “with the lizards at the [pharmaceutical] companies.”
Crowder slams back his glass of kratom at the end of the video.
Comments on kratom are due to the DEA by December 1.