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The DEA's Attempts to Ban Kratom Are Going to Get People Killed

Updated on June 6, 2018

For many years now, our nation has been increasingly ravaged by an opioid epidemic that has destroyed families, careers and lives. It has resulted in the deaths of untold thousands of people (the New York Times pegged the number of overdose deaths in 2016 at over 60,000). Whether it be street heroin or prescription drugs (which are all too often a gateway to street heroin), these poisons flow like a river through our country's main arteries.

In this climate, by Notice of Intent dated August 31, 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") announced its plan to ban the alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which are the active ingredients of a plant commonly referred to as kratom, formally known as mitragyna speciosa, The earliest date upon which this ban could have been implemented was August 31, 2016, although there remained red tape that needed to be dealt with before the ban could actually be implemented. Additional efforts have been made since that time to take incremental steps towards enacting a ban.

Reaction among scientists, researchers, vendors and those who have come to rely upon this plant to allow them to live productive, healthy and normal lives has been fast and furious. The protests and lobbying from the kratom community against this ban has been remarkable, and may have caused the DEA to temporarily back off and slow down the process. However, there is little hope among the rank and file that the DEA will ultimately reverse its course, and the threat looms that it will drop the hammer at any time.

The importance of this issue is underscored by the birth of a lobbying group created to push back against these efforts, the American Kratom Association, which has "galvanized the base" and done great work in pressuring the Federal government and the various States to reverse course on kratom.

Per WebMD: "As a medicine, kratom is used for anxiety, cough, depression, diabetes, diarrhea, high blood pressure, pain, to improve sexual performance, and to lessen symptoms of opiate withdrawal." Some scientists and researchers view it as a potential "miracle drug" that can provide many of the benefits of dangerous and addictive prescription painkiller medications, but without the devastating problems associated with them.

To be sure, as with virtually any medicine, kratom is not perfect and there are some side effects and and concerns. However, the problems associated with kratom are a water balloon fight compared to the Stalingrad of those presented by heroin and prescription painkillers'. By making kratom a Schedule 1 substance, the DEA would be lumping kratom into the same category as heroin, LSD and, tellingly, marijuana among many others.

Before we go into what kratom is, let's start with what kratom is not. While experiences can vary among individuals who try kratom, unlike opioids, it is virtually impossible to fatally overdose on kratom. It simply does not have anything like the same effect as actual opioids do insofar as slowing breathing is concerned, and any attempt to overdose on kratom would most likely simply make the person doing so vomit, as nausea is a known side effect at high doses.

Taken at normal doses (or even high doses), kratom simply does not have anything resembling an actual "intoxicating" effect on users compared to prescription medication, and even commonly-used "drugs" such as caffeine and nicotine (in fact, most users describe their experience as a variation of what caffeine provides). It is a great analgesic alternative to prescription painkillers, and helps people carry on normal lives in lieu of turning them into zombies hooked on opioids.

Kratom is used by all types of people of every conceivable group, including - notably - veterans who have served our country and put their lives on the line to protect the American people and our interests. Personally, I would never have been able to run a half-marathon but-for having taken a high dose of kratom before starting. Having played football in high school and college, my body simply could not otherwise tolerate running that distance.

More to Come ...

This article will be updated shortly to discuss recent developments and to provide a brief layman's explanation regarding what kratom actually is.

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    • DSmizzle profile imageAUTHOR

      DSmizzle 

      3 years ago from Long Beach, New York

      @Lawrence:

      Thanks for your comment. That is part of the equation for sure, but it gives the government too much credit in terms of the motive here. But your interpretation may be correct and is at least charitable in terms of the implication that this may just be ignorance on the government's behalf while genuinely trying to protect the public interest.

      In reality, the active components of kratom would be mass-produced by the pharmaceutical industry ... if only it weren't just literally leaves from a plant (which can't be patented and for that reason and others is not a good candidate to make money for pharmaceutical companies).

      Big Pharma is also likely lobbying against it given that - and there is strong, endless anecdotal evidence on this point - people use it either as an alternative to prescription painkillers and/or to get off of them (or heroin after getting hooked on prescription pills).

      Unfortunately, the government's motives aren't necessarily relevant in the end. All that really matters to those who have found this to be a life-changing plant is whether it becomes a banned substance or not. There are countless people who would likely have to revert back to opiates for chronic pain who have been able to be up and about with significantly reduced pain by taking a plant.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Never heard of it, but very interesting. Sounds to me like its a case of 'banning because it might in the future be found to be harmful'

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow, how interesting

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