|The new "Assassin of Youth"?|
..in the government's eyes, that is.
Now that cannabis laws have been softened across the country, the pharmaceutical companies have begrudgingly accepted the loss to their bottom line that the incredibly benign, multi-use (but un-patentable) plant has caused. It only took 80+ years (and weed is still Schedule I federally). Sure, they still have Marinol & Epidiolex, but they're ungodly expensive and--in the case of Marinol--nowhere near as safe as the real thing.
While the turning tide regarding cannabis is an incredibly positive thing, we're now seeing the propaganda shift toward other healing plants--namely kratom. As more Americans are turning to kratom for pain relief, mood brightening, addiction treatment & recreation, the government now has its sights set on this plant as their next demon drug. Like cannabis, kratom can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments & is being taken as a substitute for everything from prescription antidepressants & pain medications to addiction drugs like Suboxone, benzodiazepines & even alcohol. The real magic is that, unlike prescription opioids, kratom doesn't cause respiratory depression even in large doses. Pharma has never been able to concoct a drug that has these benefits without the attending risks. That's significant.
|Kratom tea fiend getting his "fix"|
And just how much are they losing to kratom? As of 2017, the annual revenue for OxyContin® was $3 billion. With a "B". And that's only one of many prescription drugs kratom is being used in place of. The real problem is that there's a revolving door between our regulatory agencies & pharmaceutical companies. The FDA is not a neutral agency out to protect the public from dangerous food & drugs but a board comprised of past pharmaceutical employees & current stockholders who directly profit from pharmaceutical drugs. Scott Gottlieb is but one example--there are many more. The ultimate plan is to place whole kratom in Schedule I (i.e. totally illegal, no medicinal value, same class as heroin & DMT) while making one alkaloid of the plant a prescription medication. That alkaloid would most likely be mitragynine or 7-hydroxymitraginine which are responsible largely for the plant's pain relieving & mood-boosting properties. A patent already exists for the kratom alkaloid speciofoline although it has expired.
One problem with that plan is, we already know what happens when we isolate a single compound & throw the rest away: You end up with a less effective & often less safe substance. Such is the case with pharmaceutical morphine, which is much easier to overdose on as a single drug than the morphine found in opium poppies, which comes with hundreds of other natural alkaloids like thebaine that discourage excessive dosing by causing vomiting or other side effects. If you take one kratom alkaloid out of the whole plant, will it remain as safe & effective? Not likely.
Kratom contains a treasure trove of substances that all perform important functions, some we don't fully understand yet. What we do know is the whole leaf has been used for millennia with relatively few health problems which, while anecdotal, is better evidence than a lot of the new medications on the market that will inevitably cause deadly effects due to a lack of long-term studies in humans. As we learned during the AIDS crisis, sometimes the FDA's lengthy approval process takes too long to reach the people who need help now. Kratom is already allowing people to live pain-free, addiction-free lives. Taking it away without offering an alternative will lead to tragedy.
|Pharma vs. kratom?|
Since 2016, the DEA & FDA have taken turns attempting to ban kratom using every trick in the book. After emergency scheduling failed due to massive public push back, they resorted to a flood of media scare stories & a trickle of state-by-state bans, followed by a trumped-up salmonella scare. There have also been a number of import alerts at customs every few months that make it hard for Indonesian kratom to make it to U.S. vendors. At every step of the way, kratom users have made their voices heard & refused to take their attacks quietly.
|The late Gene Haislip of the DEA|
"Haislip followed the paper trail through Hungary, to Austria and Germany. Each time he found a legal source (of precursor chemicals) he shut it down with local government cooperation and pressure from the U.S. Gradually, the DEA hacked at the heads of the Hydra until Colombians had no drug powder to make their counterfeit [Quaaludes], and they simply gave up."
Indonesia produces 95% of the world's kratom supply. It's not realistic to think another country could simply pick up where they left off...not this late in the game. The kratom market in America alone is enormous & growing every year. There's no way domestic growers or farmers in Thailand or Malaysia or Vietnam (can you say 'Agent Orange'?) could step in & supply the demand. If Indonesia bans kratom, it will become scarce, expensive & unsafe just like every other illicit drug on the black market. This cannot be allowed to happen. It puts kratom users in grave danger & threatens the livelihood of peaceful Indonesian farmers who rely on kratom for their livelihood. (A livelihood which doesn't destroy the environment like palm oil or rubber production, incidentally).
|Kratom rally :)|
- Donate to the American Kratom Association (AKA) whenever you can. Even a small $5 donation helps. This lobbying organization is the only reason kratom is still legal federally today. Many safe & promising substances have been banned in the time that kratom's been on the market--the only difference is they didn't have a lobbying presence to protect them in Washington.
- Reach out to sympathetic news outlets like Vice, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Forbes, Pain News Network & media personalities like Joe Rogan & Trae Crowder about what's going on with the FDA & kratom. Highlight their motivations ($$$), shady methods & the danger they're causing by trying to ban this plant. Point out the conflict of interest between pharma & regulatory agencies and don't be afraid to name names.
- Only order from vendors who donate to the AKA or Botanical Education Alliance (BEA). If they don't advertise it on their website or in their store, don't be shy about asking. Vendors make a killing importing cheap kratom & selling it at inflated prices, so it's only right that they do their part to keep it legal. Vote with your dollars. This is our most vital source of power as customers.
- Sign up for the American Kratom Association's newsletter. Sign petitions or complete surveys when they hit your inbox. Wait for their cue to call your representative or participate in other organized efforts to flood our government with personal testimonies about kratom. These calls & letters work best when sent in large numbers, so follow their directions on how & when to make contact. The AKA has saved us with these coordinated efforts before. They may not be perfect but they know how to get things done.
- Post about kratom on social media using the hashtags #keepkratomlegal, #kratomsaveslives & #iamkratom. If you don't feel comfortable posting as yourself, create a separate account for kratom & related posts. Blogging, videos other methods of getting your voice & story out to the world are all helpful too.
- Be aware of astroturfing & other attempts to cause false dissent in kratom groups. The government has unlimited time & resources to influence online opinions about kratom. They would be silly NOT to. If someone starts making false claims about kratom, the AKA or kratom users without any evidence to back it up, check their post history & see how long they've been registered on the site. In general, older users with a more varied post history tend to be more trustworthy.
This plant has saved & improved many lives. The only way it can continue to do so is if every kratom user does their part to keep it legal. It gets tiring fighting these battles against big corporations & shady government officials every few months, but the opposition is counting on us giving up or turning on each other.
Even if you aren't a kratom user, I implore you to stand up for this cause with the same fervor you'd support the right to use cannabis or engage in any other consensual adult activity. It's not about whether you personally enjoy it--it's a matter of individual liberties & saving lives. What kind of world do you want to live in? If they ban kratom today, it may be something you enjoy tomorrow. In a free society, apathy is the most dangerous opiate of all.