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The FDA's Scott Gottlieb Says Kratom Isn't Legal to Market in the US

Updated on March 19, 2019
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Don's varied background includes writing and editing letters for a DC lobbying firm. The letters went to US lawmakers and newspapers.

Update: Gottlieb Resigns!

On Tuesday March 5th, Scott Gottlieb resigned from his position as commissioner of the FDA. Clearly, this is good news for Kratom advocates, but the fight is far from over.

You can read more about what the American Kratom Association's Dave Herman thinks about this unexpected resignation:

Kratom and You

If you're like me, you're thinking, "What's up with the FDA's Scott Gottlieb?" Why is he saying it's not legal to market the product in the US?

You take Kratom now and then, or everyday. You don't take it to get high. In fact, you wonder if it's even possible to high off the leaf. You do take it to enhance your quality of life, and it works.

Maybe you get a bit of "wobbles" if you take too much Kratom, but it's not worse than when you slam down that morning mug (or two,) of joe too fast. Also, where's that massive headache you get when you miss your morning coffee? What about the chills or other hideous withdrawal symptoms akin to those of opiates? Kratom just doesn't produce those ill-effects.

Scott Gottlieb, The Guy Who Hates Kratom

 Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the FDA
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the FDA | Source

Scott Knows Best?

I'm not sure Scott was smiling after thousands of law-abiding, well-meaning, Kratom advocates came together in DC to thwart his emergency ban effort. However, Dr. Gottlieb may get the last laugh.

Kratom Basics

Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa) is a tree that's native to Southeast Asia and, along with coffee, is part of the Rubiaceae family. For hundreds of years, people of Southeast Asia ingested the leaf with no reports of deaths.

You can find summaries of the leaf's history, it's traditional uses, research, etc. The American Kratom Association (AKA) fact sheet is a good place to start. Among other points, it states that 0 percent of surveyed emergency healthcare professionals support a kratom ban.

Also, the documentary A Leaf of Faith is currently on Netflix. It gives a solid summary of Kratom effects and the legal fights surrounding the tree.

So, what's with Scott Gotleib and the FDA's, continual efforts to rid the US of the leaf?

FDA War on Kratom

Gottlieb's FDA labels Kratom as an opioid and attaches all the stigma associated with that label. This is akin to making green tea a controlled substance. The agency states mitragynine, a primary kratom alkaloid, is an opiod agonist. Ooh, sounds scary!

However, Kratom's respiratory depressant effects are negligible, if any. This fact "would be consistent with the absence of verified kratom caused overdose deaths," as stated in the PinneyAssociates Eight Factor Analysis. That doesn't stop the FDA from blaming overdoses on the plant. You see, an individual dies with lethal levels of Oxycontin in her system, and the FDA states that death is caused by some Kratom also found in an autopsy.

In 2016, the FDA tried to convince the DEA to enact an emergency ban on Kratom. A wave of support from Kratom advocates squashed that effort. This battle raised congressional awareness resulting in a letter to the DEA that supports Kratom. That letter was signed by over 60 Senate and House members.

Of course, Gottlieb's FDA marches on with a change in tactics. Shortly after that episode, he escalated the matter with a public relations war, tweeting falsehoods about Kratom and issuing a kratom salmonella outbreak warning based on evidence flimsier than a prostitutes mini-skirt.

Now, more state governments are suddenly concerned about kratom. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), of which the FDA is part of, is once again advising the DEA that Kratom should be a Schedule 1 drug.

What's more, Gottlieb's attacking Americans' right to import and sell the plant by giving border authorities wide discretion in confiscating packages. This action's implications go beyond just kratom.

The FDA's Attacks go Beyond Kratom

The FDA is attacking Americans' right to import and sell many products by giving border authorities wide discretion in confiscating packages.

Kratom Tree

This tree is a threat says the FDA
This tree is a threat says the FDA | Source

Tell Scott Gottlieb Americans Can Make our Own Choices!

How does one agency, and one man, make so much happen in a "free country?"

Ask Scott Gottlieb, and tell him what you think about it. Who knows what they may come for next.

The End of Legal Kratom in America?

In what some are saying may be the end of Kratom in the US, on Nov. 27, 2018 Gottlieb stated that kratom is not legally marketed in the U.S. as a drug or dietary supplement. This is an underhanded tactic that involves complex laws such as the New Dietary Ingredients (NDI) Notifications Process.

The crux of the matter is that the FDA is telling Americans they cannot ingest a leaf that's been safely used for centuries, has no real proven ill health effects, and helps thousands of people deal with an assortment of issues.

How does one agency, and one man, make so much happen in a "free country?"

He is trying his hand. We'll see how it plays out.

Contact Scott Gottlieb, and tell him what you think about it on Twitter. Who knows what they may come for next.

© 2018 Don Shepard


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    • hard sun profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Shepard 

      6 months ago

      Dan Knudsen, I agree it's obvious that the pharmaceutical industry is made up of corporations that are beholden to only shareholders. My time writing for an astroturfing firm drove it into me just how much industry runs our country. Hell, much of the time, industry writes the bills. Campaign finance and lobbying reform with real accountability is a must.

    • profile image

      Dan Knudsen 

      6 months ago

      The pharmaceutical industry created the opioid/addiction crisis, they sell the maintenance drugs methadone and suboxone etc. and they sell naloxone for when people overdose. They also sell prescription medication for the side effects, and anxiety and depression..... I wonder if FDA is controlled by the pharmaceutical industry.... The manipulation, misinformation and lies from FDA are at the level of super unintelligent. Everyone should be able to see the conflicts of interests and why they want to prevent people from using Kratom. Some people have stopped using 5-10 different prescription medications because of Kratom. Isn't it obvious that the pharmaceutical industry and FDA want people to be addicted and sick, and on maintenance prescription medication for the rest of their lives? The more prescription medications people use, the more sick people get..... Isn't that intentional harm and destruction, and pure evil?

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      Kratom is the reason I am not on disability . I found it a little over a year ago and through the patience of others learned how to take it without issues. M-Friday and I can work again walk again without pain turn my head and drive . I am 63 I do not take kratom to get high and I do not get high. I could have taken prescribed pain meds a year ago offered by my dr. I refused because I need to drive for work and did not want to drive under the that time I was so depressed I thought it meant an end to being a productive member of society and continuing to support myself. I no longer need it 5 days a week. It is down to three or four days and one dose in the am. I was so afraid to try it in the beginning but then I really had to get past all the lies and scare tactics published by the FDA . I continued to research ordered books spoke to doctors and learned the truth. I don’t mind saying that I am really angry at Mr. Gottlieb and hence the FDA and other corrupt and uninformed officials that are trying to take it away from us. How many years did people suffer with issues that would have been helped with marijuana ? Will we have to repeat that whole corruption of the war on truth nonsense with kratom before it can be evaluated properly? What will happen to me if he wins? Should I go on opioids? Could I even get them now? Either way I will need to quit working and rely on public assistance. Mad doesn’t begin toexpress my feelings .

    • profile image

      Charles simpson 

      6 months ago

      Scott gottlieb is just afraid of losing his money from his drug company kronies, his pals at big pharma, his conflict of interests is atroshies, he should be banned

    • hard sun profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Shepard 

      6 months ago

      Thank you Mary, chickie, and the healed1 These are the type of powerful stories that make the idea of taking Kratom away so insane. If it needs to be regulated a bit better and/or the vendors need to step it up a bit, then so be it. But, there's just NO reason to take this leaf away. If so, they can justify taking ANYTHING away.

    • profile image

      Mary L Hanson 

      6 months ago

      Scott Gottlieb is not keeping an open and unbiased ear to this 'war on Kratom'. No empathy whatsoever. Do you have chronic pain Mr Gottlieb? I want to give my account on my discovery of this miracle leaf. Please read I tried to keep it short.I have bone on bone pain and deterioration in both hips. I was told only thing that will relieve my pain is surgery but too young!! Im over 50! I went to 4 different doctors and one of them at John Hopkins and all said the same! All told me to go to pain management! I tucked tail and was placed on tramadol and worthless shots. At my breaking point I searched the web for alternatives. The tramadol became more of a dependence from withdrawal and pain is torture. I found Kratom. Did research on it and told my doctors..even the pain doc! None had ever heard about it! But they shrugged their shoulders of me trying it! So I made the decision that changed my life. I bought some and my first dose I about gagged on the taste but in 20 mins all my pain was gone and that was 3 years ago! I had no withdrawal from the tramadol and now I am biding my time to get surgery. Mind you..It took me 2 years from the onset of my chronic pain to be 'accepted' by a pain management! I was extremely active all my life. Im 52. The dark dark thoughts was equal to my worst pain. Suicidal..angry..confused..insane pain. I was now in the group of people tossed aside because of the medical and insurance industries..big Pharma and that is a whole other story!! Why Im I desperate for this miracle leaf to stay legal is Im a recovering addict. RECOVERING!! Before April 8th 2010 I went to pain clinics for 10 years for sciatica. Addiction to high doses of fentanyl.I had overdosed several times and I didnt care. I wanted to die. I had a thousand dollar a month problem obtaining it off the street to keep from being sick and the pain. I attempted suicide and was not the person I had been.A regular working active law abiding good citizen enjoying life. Addiction is not prejudice. The medical board came down hard on my pain doctor. He had to start giving us low grade percocet. And I was terrified and started asking around for Heroin. My bottom! By Gods intervention doors opened up to go to a long term rehab where insurance was accepted! The withdrawal alone is only other addicts will know too well. Its the most violent forms of sickness you can imagine. I did not want to ever go thru that EVER! Now on Kratom I am taken the same dose of it since the beginning! If I take it too soon it wont work. And take too much you get nauseous and sick to your stomach. Like eating too much candy! Its incredibly gross tasting of nasty swill but it takes my pain away and gives me a life to live while the doctors decide when I can get my surgery.It is the last thing of many to be used for recreation. Please! Give Kratom a chance. The news about it is nothing but propaganda. Big Pharma is making enough money. Not just me but others that have similar experiences on this thousands of years old leaf. If Scott Gottlieb pushes this through to getting his way of making it 'across the board' illegal it will affect millions of people to a staggering new hell and a spike of desperation for pain relief from suicides..heroin...crime..addiction..and bitter about what their country did to them cause of ignorance of useful purposes of this green miracle. Thank you and respectfully Mary H.

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      I agree I have not much pain my daily life is so much better I have been on kratom for about two years my life is so much better it needs to stay legal Idont get high from it they makeit legal we don't get stupid from it like pot smokers

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      Kratom is my lifeline! After 20 yrs of chronic pain.. and yrs of addiction to heroin after being forced to the black market for help after losing my doctor/insurance.... I’ve finally picked up where I left off in my 20’s after a chronic pain diagnosis! Years lost ... in darkness and misery have been restored by the power of this natural botanical leaf! We should all have the right to experience a better quality of life! The science is there... the people have spoken!!! The fear of a kratom ban looms over our community like a death sentence! Beautiful transformation has taken place because of the power of the human spirit once given a better quality of life... kratom changes lives!!! Keep Kratom Legal


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