Kratom is a plant that, according to users, relieves pain, reduces anxiety, and aids withdrawal from opioids like heroin.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, however, believes kratom is dangerous and has no valid medical use. So the DEA is placing kratom in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which effectively bans legal use of the drug.
The DEA's decision prompted one user to send me this email:
I've read many of your posts online, and remembered you today as I heard some news that, I fear, is going to change my life for the worse. I'm sure you are aware that very soon kratom is going to be banned nationwide.
Full disclosure: I do depend on kratom for anxiety and (very) occassional pain from back spasms. About five years ago kratom gave me my life back after finally weening myself from prescription pain medication. I take it every day, and I've never had to increase the amount. This amazes me.
I am a successful high school teacher, husband, and father. I have a master's degree in education and I work hard to take care of my family. I have refused, and will continue to refuse, to become a ward of the pharmaceutical industry. Which I suppose, in the eyes of the DEA, now makes me a felon.
I am writing to ask you if you have any advice at all for how to fight this. I am writing writing writing ... senators and health officials ... posting on forums, donating money. This all feels quite futile.
So I guess I'm also, not so subtly, asking you if you believe there is any way you could help. You are an expert in this field. Your voice would be heard much more clearly than a high school teacher in Southwest Ohio. What you might say I do not know. But I do know there are thousands of people right now who are frightened and angry, and my gut tells me this ban could cause many to suffer. But of course I am also being selfish.
I replied that I did not have an obvious way to help, but that I would blog again about kratom. The sender in turn said:
Thank you so much for your reply. You may absolutely quote me, but I would appreciate if you did not use my name. Small-town malice is a reality around here.
I would like to link a short video that was posted online today by a Veteran who is upset about the DEA not allowing public comment on this matter. His story is heartbreaking. It made me feel a bit guilty about my whining.
My personal story aside, I just think it's an overreach. The data they cite in their intent letter is incorrect (nearly all the deaths blamed on kratom have been shown to have resulted from users having multiple drugs in their systems -- mainly tramadol, according to what I've read). And the very substance they wish to ban is so obviously helping thousands of people stop abusing heroin and all the so-called maintenance drugs prescribed to addicts. Evidently, the month after Alabama banned kratom, herion overdoses doubled. I think we may see this on a national scale come October.
Most of the information I'm finding is all anecdotal, of course. But Schedule 1 means kratom will never get properly researched. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but it all seems a bit fishy.
That was a rant. Sorry. It's been a rough couple of days. Here is the video link, and thank you so much. Even if you can't write the blog, you have been very kind.
One more link then I will get a life and leave you alone:
Two U.S. patents, the most recent one funded by the government, clearly stating the medical benefits of kratom. So the DEA is being a bit disingenuous.
One individual's experience is not proof that kratom's benefits outweigh its negatives; kratom may have significant risks for some users.
But in a free society, individuals, not the DEA, get to make that decision.