KRATOM vs. FDA
(PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD)
The DEA tried to ban Kratom - but due to our pressure they temporarily backed off and offered a 'public comment period'. We need to submit as many positive comments as possible before December 1.
As of October 28 2016, 1,900+ public comments have been submitted for government review.
Considering that there are millions of Kratom users in the United States, 10,000+ of whom recently responded to Dr. Oliver Grudmann's University of Florida Kratom survey, clearly many of you are waiting to submit your public comment.
Some of the information below will be useful to incorporating into your personal testimonial.
If you have already submitted a comment, nothing stops you from revising (editing) your comment (on the Federal Registrar) and resubmitting it.
You can always send them to your Congressmen or Senators too.
What we have accomplished thus far is historic.
The Kratom ban was delayed and the United States Government has called for official public comment on the "Kratom Issue".
Whether you use Kratom or not, you can help us.
If you are simply against the 'Drug War' that imprisons a non-violent offender every 25 seconds or concerned about the opiate epidemic that claims 78 American lives a day - consider submitting a very short comment that simply states (in your own words) -
Kratom has helped tons of people.
Kratom should be researched, not banned.
The War on Drugs is a failure, it's time to start offering solutions instead of prison.
Non-Kratom Users: Submit your short comment for official consideration
I would appreciate that.
Every comment matters (they are literally counting them).
The Kratom community won an unprecedented victory against the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
NEVER has the DEA backed down on an emergency scheduling intent.
Every compound that was subject to emergency scheduling (e.g. MDMA, Spice) have and will likely always remain on the Schedule I list, unless drug policy totally changes.
As every piece of media reports, it has largely been our grassroots outcry that won this [temporary] victory -
- Washington Post: "The DEA is withdrawing a proposal to ban another plant after the Internet got really mad"
- Guardian: "Kratom bomb: DEA's 'unprecedented' reversal of drug ban shows culture shift"
- ATTN: "Internet wins a historic fight against the DEA"
- ABC News: "Due to a lot of criticism, especially on Twitter, the DEA is considering reversing its decision..."
Though under-organized and impromptu at times, our online advocacy effort is legendary.
I couldn't be more proud of what we, the American Kratom Association, Botanical Education Alliance, American Herbal Products Association (Michael McGuffin) and so much other advocacy groups have accomplished.
Though I am just one of a million voices - I consider my contributions some of my finest work.
The fight is not over.
The FDA wants Kratom banned now.
Open now, until December 1, is a 'Modified Public Comment' period where Kratom users (or any American) can submit their personal comments for official review.
These comments are a matter of victory or defeat.
If Kratom is a significant part of your life, you should take your time to submit a personal and thoughtful comment.
In addition to your own personal, compelling and emotional testimonial, you might want to include some of the following 'considerations' in your public comment.
Keep in mind, however, your PERSONAL feedback is most important.
YOUR STORY OF HOW KRATOM HAS ENRICHED YOUR LIFE.
Don't feel that you need to make the legal/academic/pharmacological case for Kratom. That will be handled by our professionals.
Don't Make 'Medical Claims' About Kratom (Easy Rules)
It may seem like a matter of semantics, but this is actually important.
There is a catch-22 about honestly explaining about how Kratom has helped you.
If too many suggest that Kratom "cures" or "treats" a specific medical condition, the FDA can try to declare it a "drug".
We want to avoid that mess.
Do it like this, for example -
Stick to temporary emotions such as "lifts mood" or "reduces irritability" instead of "cures depression" or "treats anxiety".♦
If you DO have a certain medical condition, here's what you could say -
I am diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. Kratom helps my pain.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Kratom improves my mood.
INSTEAD OF -
Kratom treats my chronic pain from degenerative disc disease.
Kratom cured my bipolar disorder, I am never in a bad mood.
It is OKAY to say you have a certain medical condition.
But say the Kratom 'helps' with the symptoms, rather than "cures" or "treats" the specific condition or disease.
This is a great, easy to understand explanation of avoiding "medical claims" -
Kratom Is Not An Opiate
Though the word is getting out, it's important to reiterate that KRATOM IS NOT AN OPIATE and needs to be separated from opiates and synthetic drugs.
An "Opiate" is a compound derived from opium.
Kratom is a natural herb derived from the Mitragyna plant, that has 'opiate-like effects' similar to how foods (desserts) or beverages (coffee, sugary sodas) also have a small opiate-like effect.
The body does not respond to Kratom and traditional morphine-based opiates in the same fashion.
We'll discuss that later.
Present Kratom As Tea
Susan Ash (American Kratom Association) insists that advocates present Kratom as tea.
When presenting Kratom as a tea beverage, you don't have to worry about talking in Kratom code or saying that it's "Not For Human Consumption".
The 'Not For Human Consumption' thing was strictly for vendor liability.
Kratom has never been illegal to consume, it's just not formally FDA approved.
Don't be afraid to say that you drink Kratom.
After all, the whole point of our campaign is that Kratom IS safe for ingestion.
Kratom Has Limited 'Recreational' Potential (My Argument)
This is an original point that I've been hammering when I've discussed Kratom with media and in YouTube videos.
Kratom has been readily available in the United States for 20+ years (and centuries in Southeast Asia) and been on the DEA's 'Drugs of Concern' list since 2013.
But the reason that few have heard of it is because the recreational effects are limited.
If Kratom was getting people really high, it would have been a lot more popular and not in the shadows for 2 decades.
This is my angle -
Despite the reports of some shock media, Kratom is not a "new exotic drug."
Kratom is a natural botanical that has quietly been part of the American economy for at least 2 decades. Hundreds of thousands of mature adults suffering from chronic pain have used Kratom for years.
Likewise, commercial Kratom has been on shelves for years but never caught on as a 'legal high' because it's recreational potential is limited. If Kratom was anything like heroin, it would have seen instant popularity and gotten national attention and prohibition a decade ago.
Kratom can produce a 'sense of well-being' but falls far short of the 'euphoria' category because it largely doesn't interact with the Mu-Opiate receptor which produces euphoria, major pain relief and dependency.
That is why you almost always see mature adults in #IAMKRATOM videos and not teenagers looking to get high.
Kratom Consumers Are Mature Adults in Chronic Pain
If you are over the age of 30, it is important to mention that.
Despite yellow journalism that suggests that minors are getting high off Kratom and going out to rob banks and torment minorities, the vast majority of Kratom consumers are adults, over the age of 35, using it for chronic pain.
The average age might even be 40+, according to the American Kratom Association's internal survey -
“The average Kratom consumer is a man or woman in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s, who is primarily looking for alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs that either didn’t work for them or had side effects that were unbearable. The survey clearly shows the majority of people are using Kratom to manage chronic medical conditions."
The point is -
The average Kratom user is a mature adult using it for pain management.
You can find more demographics information here -
Banning Kratom Will Make the Opiate Epidemic (Overdoses/Suicides) Absolutely Explode
As far as lawmakers (Congress) are concerned, this may be the most convincing point in favor of keeping Kratom legal.
Everyone knows that the 'opiate problem' in America is absolutely out of control.
I would mention -
- 78 115 people die of opiate overdoses every single day (50% from prescription painkillers)
[updated November 2018]
- 1 person dies every 12 minutes
[updated November 2018]
- Over 6 in 10 drug overdose deaths involve opiates
- 50% of them are from prescription opiate drugs (far more than heroin)
Updated 2016 statistics of the opiate epidemic can be found here.
Kratom, with no confirmed deaths as a standalone, can be a helpful opiate-alternative that can save lives.
In fact -
Kratom should be ENCOURAGED, not prohibited.
Current and former addicts rely on Kratom to prevent relapse and will be forced to seek out more dangerous drugs if Kratom is banned.
A good case study is Alabama.
In May 2016, Alabama refused public comment and banned Kratom behind closed doors.
- April 2016: 47 Deaths
- May 2016: 56 Deaths
- June 2016: 101 Deaths
Alabama is examined further here -
As I said before, the point to hammer is -
Kratom education and use should be ENCOURAGED, not prohibited.
It is absolutely insane to totally ban (or even restrict) a safe opiate-like alternative amidst this epidemic.
Well-thought commentary on "Unintended Consequences" can be found here -
Florida Researched Kratom and Decided to Place NO RESTRICTIONS
Speaking of states, Kratom is still legal in EVERY state that allowed for public comment in 2016.
Florida Medical Association (pharma/rehab financed) Florida state Representative, Kristin Jacobs (D), fought tirelessly for over 3 years to take Kratom away from Florida residents in chronic pain.
She was not successful because -
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) released a December 2015 report titled “Kratom - Mitragyna Speciosa, The Impact to Florida” and found, “Kratom does not currently constitute a significant risk to the safety and welfare of Florida residents. Additionally the report sites that the Florida Department of Health found there are no pervasive health issues which can be attributed to the ingestion of Kratom products in Florida.”
Based on their conclusion to keep Kratom completely unrestricted, it is hard to believe that Kratom is as dangerous as the naysayers claim.
Kratom Does Not Cause Respiratory Suppression (Why Kratom Is Safer Than Everything Else)
It's easy to explain why Kratom is much safer than prescription opiates or hardcore drugs.
Kratom, unlike prescription drugs or heroin, DOES NOT slow down your breathing.
That reason alone is why nobody has died from Kratom and why nobody ever will.
Overdose deaths are largely a result of the brain or body not getting enough oxygen.
Kratom does not significantly impact your central nervous system and there is no such thing as "overdosing on Kratom".
"Overdosing" results in the user getting nauseous, wanting to take a nap or at worst - throwing up.
Kratom Is Not "Spice" or "Bath Salts" (Confusion & Reckless Marketing)
This has been established in the past month, but it's important to separate Kratom from synthetic, legitimately toxic and dangerous bathtub-made designer drugs such as "Spice" or "Bath Salts".
Unfortunately, Kratom is sometimes associated with those dangerous compounds because of similar 'recreational' marketing and smoke shop availability.
The key point is -
Kratom is a natural botanical that is 1000's of year old, the leaves are used to make tea.
It is neither new, designer, synthetic or administered any other way than orally.
Regrettably, as the DEA told me (and I assumed from Day 1), the reckless 'legal high' marketing has gotten Kratom negative attention.
There should probably be some minimal labeling standards to avoid this crap.
But total prohibition of Kratom is equally reckless and will do far more harm than good.
Kratom Can Only Help So Much
If we are being honest, the truth is -
Kratom can only do so much.
Kratom absolutely helps with mild to moderate pain.
Kratom certainly helps with mild to moderate anxiety or depression.
Kratom also helps with mild to moderate addiction problems.
Kratom, however, is not a miracle replacement for every ailment and isn't usually strong enough for severe symptoms.
BUT THAT'S WHAT MAKES KRATOM SAFE.
That is why the comparisons to powerful prescription drugs such as Oxycontin or hardcore drugs like Fentanyl have always been ridiculous. Kratom is nowhere as strong as those and has limited recreational, dependency and pain relieving capacity.
The 'Evidence' That Suggests Kratom is Dangerous Actually Shows That Kratom is Safe
The DEA made 2 main assertions in their letter of intent (summary) that supposedly proved Kratom was dangerous and an imminent threat to public safety -
- United States Poison Control (CDC) received 660 reports (e.g. phone calls) over 6 years that mentioned 'Kratom'
- DEA is aware of 15 Kratom-related deaths between 2014 and 2016
Let's quickly examine these 2 assertions.
United States Poison Control (CDC) received 660 reports over 6 years that mentioned 'Kratom'
While "660" make seem like a lot of reports, it is minuscule.
Especially over a 6 year period.
Caffeine received 23,203 reports, essential oils received 66,300 reports and even Valerian Root received 1,499 reports over the same period. All legal compounds.
Moreover, when subtracting the reports that involved other compounds, the result is only 428 calls regarding Kratom over 6 years.
Lastly, "reports/calls to Poison Control" does not indicate an emergency situation.
In 2014 alone, 79,428 people called Poison Control because they took a certain medicine twice and wondered if they should go to the doctor.
You can call Poison Control now and tell them you got a headache from eating too many donuts for breakfast.
It's not an emergency.
DEA is aware of 15 'Kratom-related deaths' between 2014 and 2016
The conclusions of "Death From Kratom" have always been vague.
Most likely because there isn't a single death undisputedly attributed to Kratom (and not another drug or preexisting medical condition) in healthy adults.
Garcia had a history of cardiovascular problems and supposedly died of a seizure - generally something that SSRI's (especially Tramadol) can cause if the user is prone. As discussed in the Hogan-Lovells legal letter to the DEA, Dr. Amy Martin, the Denver medical examiner, revised the autopsy report and stated it was "indeterminate" if Kratom was even present in Garcia's bloodstream. The full autopsy and toxicology report is not publicly available.
It is hardly conclusive that Kratom was even involved, much less responsible for the seizure that killed Garcia.
The remaining 14 'Kratom-related deaths' involved other drugs or a preexisting medical condition.
Determining whether the number of "Kratom Deaths" is 0, 1, 14 or 15 is irrelevant.
There are an estimated 3-5 million Kratom users in the United States alone.
There would be tens-of-thousands of 'Kratom-related' calls to poison control, emergency room visits and funerals if Kratom was legitimately dangerous.
Highly suspect, BUT assuming the accuracy of the report: 660 calls were made to Poison Control over a 6-year period and Kratom has caused 15 deaths over a 3-year period -
THIS IS EVIDENCE THAT KRATOM IS SAFE.
NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
This Georgetown University student directly questions the DEA about their decision to [try to] ban Kratom on "Opiate Awareness Week", in light of all the evidence that undeniably shows Kratom is far safer for pain relief than even Tylenol.
The Drug War and Mass Incarceration Is Absolutely Out of Control
People (not policy makers) on both sides of the political spectrum largely agree on this.
Over 2 million people are behind bars in the United States, the most in the world, the vast majority for non-violent drug possession 'crimes'.
Adding Kratom to the endless list of "drug crimes" will do nothing but increase the number of otherwise law abiding Americans that are thrown in a cage for a victimless crime.
Moreover, these new "criminals" will largely be adults over the age of 35 in chronic pain or with medical conditions.
There is not much more to say about that.
Kratom Is Sold By Hard Working Small Business
This is a bonus consideration.
Essentially, the Kratom ban is simply a fight between big business (pharmaceuticals, rehabilitation) and small business.
As the owner of Happy Hippo (I have not mentioned this once in any of my Kratom advocacy content), I have some real inside perspective on this.
Kratom is sold by hard-working, tax-paying small family businesses to hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding Americans. Over 50% who are in chronic pain.
The employees of these small business are middle and lower-middle class Americans, many who are 1 paycheck away from financial disaster.
Kratom, specifically 'Botanicals', is a stereotypical American small business industry that pays enormous taxes and is the lifeblood of the economy.
If your 'vendor' is a successful mid-level business, they pay 35% in corporate tax, 39.6% income tax and in additional 10-20% in Federal and state payroll taxes.
At the end of the day, your Kratom vendor is probably surrendering 40-50% of their income to Uncle Sam.
Kratom vendors are NOT huge multinational corporations that have massive deductions. Botanical vendors are SMALL BUSINESSES that pay the VAST MAJORITY of the nation's taxes.
- Huffington Post: "Some Small Businesses Pay Tax Rates More Than Double Those Of Large Corporations: Study"
The tax structure (successful small business pays 40-50%, big multinational business pays 0-10%) is this way to keep small business from competing with big business. Progressive anti-capitalist social justice warriors don't understand this and assume that "all businesses" don't pay taxes. Some people pay 50%, I am one. But that's a topic for another time.
Banning Kratom would cost 157 (of 163) business an approximate $207 million dollars.
Estimates project a nationwide loss of $5 billion dollars.
The point is -
If Kratom is banned, aside from the millions that will have to suffer in chronic pain or be taken to the gulag, there is a significant impact on the American economy (real people's financial lives).
Taxes on $5+ billion dollars cannot be collected and ten's of thousands will immediately be out of work.
The only beneficiaries of a Kratom ban would be big pharmaceutical, drug rehabilitation and private prison corporations.
The average American and even the government (treasury) will be hurting.
Submit Your Public Comment For Official Review
Below is the link to submit your comment.
You are free to discuss any of the above 'considerations' and research in your statement.
Be polite, some of the 'edgy' writing above is not how I will present my official public comment.
Use your own words, don't copy and paste.
In your comment, include the following -
- Your name, age, and profession
- A clear statement of why you oppose the DEA putting Kratom on the list of schedule I controlled substances (or any illict drug lists)
- When & how you started using Kratom
- How Kratom has helped you
- Why you think Kratom should remain available
* unless you are a doctor or medical practitioner avoid medical claims (see beginning of blog post for help)
- Any links to thoughtful research that supports your position (use the 13 suggestions above)
- A concluding point
e.g. "Kratom should be readily available, it is safe, effective and will prevent addiction and overdoses."
When you send your comment here, it is automatically saved in a database in case the Federal Registrar just happens to 'lose it'.
You will receive confirmation that your comment was successfully posted in 0-48 hours.
In a future post, I might discuss my suggestions on what should happen to the industry. Here is a prediction for what may happen if our commenting campaign is successful.
13 Things You Should Tell the Government About Kratom (Video)
If you'd prefer to listen to this post on video/audio, here is the media -
Hogan Lovells Legal Letter (Masterpiece)
Full Letter -
“Why Criminalization of Kratom is Unadvisable”
(Personal Letter by Katie Lair)
American Herbal Products Association Letter to DEA