Kratom: What is it? And Why is the DEA Banning it?
Kratom, a natural herbal supplement that some people were using as an opiate addiction alternative, will soon be schedule I thanks to the DEA.
Long Story Short
Kratom, a natural herbal supplement that some people were using as an opiate addiction alternative, will soon be schedule I thanks to the DEA. This means that like cannabis, kratom will be deemed as dangerous and illegal as heroin and bath salts. This schedule is for any drugs that have absolutely no medical value. There are studies on both kratom and marijuana that illustrate each of their medicinal benefits.
Despite this, the DEA will keep both on the schedule I list. This gives people suffering from opiate addiction even fewer alternatives. Many will be calling up their doctors for prescription drugs after the ban begins on October 1st. The DEA’s recent decisions seem to protect big pharma from any competitors.
A petition against this change in drug laws currently has 117 thousand signatures. The petition only needed 100,000 signatures to receive a response and people are hoping this delays or completely reverses the move to schedule I.
Kratom Ban in Alabama
Banned in Alabama in May of this year. Senate Bill 226 made it so the possession and sale of Kratom were illegal in Alabama. Since this time, heroin overdoses have reportedly seen a 20 percent increase. Despite this and other research on the benefits for those going through opiate withdrawals, the DEA has rushed to ban it.
Why the Ban?
The DEA views Kratom as an “imminent hazard to public safety.” They come to this conclusion from the information on a recent report done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report found that 660 calls involving the opiate alternative were made to the U.S. poison centers in a six-year span. What the DEA fails to mention is that the CDC receives 3 million calls a year which make this number insignificant.
The DEA also claimed that there have been “numerous deaths associated with kratom.” The DEA is only aware of 15 related deaths in the last two years. However, they neglect to mention the fact that none of those deaths had kratom as the sole contributor. Most of the opiate alternative-related deaths were people who tested positive for numerous substances or pre-existing medical conditions. Despite this low risk, the DEA has chosen to ban instead of regulating kratom. Prohibition has resulted in failure in the past the DEA feels no need to switch up strategies.
Number of Deaths
Compared to the measly 15 kratom-related deaths the DEA is talking about, how many have died from legal substances like alcohol and painkillers?
In 2014 alone, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported over 25,000 fatal overdoses in the US from prescription drugs. There have been nearly 88,000 reported alcohol-related deaths.
Like the other herb on the DEA’s Schedule I list, Kratom has been found to relieve pain. Studies have shown that cannabis relieves chronic pain. The main ingredient, Mitragynia speciosa, binds to opioid receptors to relieve pain. The accessibility of these two substances has been linked to a decrease in opioid overdoses and abuse.
With these herbs being illegal people suffering from pain must turn to more addictive and harmful prescription pain medications.
Kratom Successfully Treats Opioid Withdrawal
The predominant alkaloid of kratom, mitragynine binds to opioid receptors. By binding to opioid receptors, the alternative can naturally take the place of the desire for opiates.
The DEA is prohibiting another alternative to opioids without sufficient evidence. Meanwhile, signs of the plant’s benefits are being ignored. Kratom March on DC tells us they are battling the DEA’s decision to ban Kratom, pushing for at least more than 30 days before the ban goes into the effect. The group’s petition already received the 100,000 signatures required to receive a response from the federal government but this response can take up to 60 days. Here is the group’s facebook page for more information on how you can help change the DEA’s decision to ban kratom on September 30th.