By Steve Neavling
The DEA appears to be undergoing a major shift in how it handles the war on drugs.
After mounting public pressure, the DEA backed down on its pledge to ban Kratom, a south-east Asian plant that proponents say is an effective treatment for addiction to opioids.
“This is an unprecedented action. It’s never happened before,” said agency spokesman Russ Bayer, the Guardian reports. “We’ve never withdrawn a notice to temporarily schedule any substance but we want to move through this process in a transparent manner.”
Bayer said the DEA is changing its approach to drugs under acting director Chuck Rosenberg.
“We have had kind of a cultural, organizational transformation during the past year,” Bayer said. “Our core mission has remained the same. It will always be to go after the biggest, most sophisticated, most violent drug traffickers and organizations responsible for the supply of drugs. But Mr Rosenberg has brought in an added emphasis, an increased awareness of some of the other functions that DEA needs to be engaged with. First and foremost community outreach, educating the public in terms of drug abuse, talking about addiction as being a disease.”