By Paul Kemp with Susan Ash
Kratom advocates have had a successful legislative season overall. We’ve kept kratom legal in six states that proposed legislation to make it a controlled substance. Only two states banned Kratom; Arkansas and Alabama. Arkansas used procedures that excluded public input and Alabama ignored public opinion, testimony and science altogether. At time of press, the City of San Diego has an ordinance banning kratom due to take effect July 15th, but we’re aware of at least one attempt at a legal challenge to prevent its implementation.
In Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey and Kentucky, kratom is still legal for adults to possess, consume and sell.
(To be perfectly accurate, the North Carolina Senate heard our voices, offered up a compromise and voted to amend the proposed ban by making kratom illegal to possess or sell to children under 18 and requiring a study of kratom’s impact on the state. That bill has yet to pass through the House of Representatives and be signed into law -- their session ends in July, so they may run out of time).
Now is the time to be preparing for the next legislative season, when we’ll probably be dealing with twice as many states. The American Kratom Association (AKA) must raise money to build leadership teams in all 50 states, hire critical staff (we have NO salaried staff; all struggle to pay bills), purchase a new software monitoring program that will alert us to any new ban attempts before they happen, continue to educate lawmakers and the public (via the media, when possible) and for research initiatives.
Keeping Kratom Legal Is a Big Job
The AKA's emphasis, until we receive more resources, will be on building and training leaders in all states, particularly those under the most immediate threat. Those will be the states we fought for this year, where we are likely to see similar bills proposed again -- and other states where we see a rash of negative local media and watch the drug rehab industry agitating for bans. That seems to be how trouble for us usually starts.
We will also look for opportunities, which include positive media coverage, to reverse the bans in Vermont, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Indiana, Alabama, and Arkansas. This article from Arkansas is a good example of how fair media coverage can help lay the groundwork for change in a harmful law.
We have a new tool. The AKA commissioned a review done by an expert toxicologist who looked at deaths blamed on kratom and at kratom’s toxicity. This sworn affidavit supporting what we already know - that there are no direct deaths tied to kratom and that the plant itself has little to no toxicity - was shared with the North Carolina Senate Health Care Committee. Though we cannot publish or disseminate it publicly at this time due to liability issues, it will prove useful in other states, cities, and counties where the AKA is called upon to speak for our right to consume kratom.
Working Toward a Long-Term Solution
Kratom consumers will benefit when the vendors and distributors decide to form an alliance that will self-regulate quality, sanitation, and marketing standards. The industry needs to start enforcing accurate and ethical labeling, marketing, and product quality standards. If kratom vendors don't start policing their own industry, we will all suffer, due to the negative attention in the media and, ultimately, the FDA, DEA and elected officials.
With so much attention being directed toward synthetic drugs -- as seen by the recent ordinance passed by the City of San Diego banning kratom's two key alkaloids along with a laundry list of synthetic chemicals -- vendors will be wise to make sure they aren't selling adulterated kratom. (We will discuss the serious threat that cities banning kratom poses in a future blog, when we learn more about this insidious technique for passing laws without much -- or any -- public discussion).
We in the kratom community face a very difficult task of opposing the lavishly financed campaign of lies and laws that are being used to deny our freedom to consume kratom. Many of us have suffered not only physically and emotionally, but have spent years trying to pay for medical drugs and procedures that, in many cases, weren't helping us much. This has left many medicinal consumers with little to give to protect this herb that has "given us our life back.”
We must look to those who ARE doing well financially for help in keeping kratom legal for all to enjoy. Of course, I am primarily referring to our kratom vendors -- especially the large ones who sell in the biggest retail markets.
That most kratom sold has no guarantee of purity from microbes, fungi, molds, or synthetic contaminants is one of the few legitimate complaints the FDA, DEA and elected officials have against this herb. This is not part of the mission of the AKA, but we can urge vendors large and small to correct this, for the good of the whole community. To their credit, some vendors are already moving toward compliance with the FDA's current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) standards.
A secondary -- but very critical point -- is the presence of unapproved medical claims on the packaging of some kratom brands, which in no subtle terms indicate that kratom is a "legal high,” an opiate replacement or a drug. Claims like this are inviting police and DEA involvement, which makes kratom suspect even for those vendors who don't make these wild claims.
The smoke shops, product distributors and packagers, and major importers should all get behind the AKA as the most effective voice for the consumers. If retail vendors of kratom want this windfall of profits to continue, they need to support the most effective voice for keeping it legal, the American Kratom Association.
What can you, the consumer, do (and what makes a good vendor?)
Wherever you buy - online or from smoke shops, strongly encourage your vendor to donate a percentage of their monthly revenue from kratom to the American Kratom Association (www.americankratom.org). You might point out that lawmakers listen more to the testimonials of responsible consumers -- and especially veterans and those with chronic illnesses -- than to businesses. In fact, one lawmaker in North Carolina who was originally vehemently against kratom legality, told us he read our heart-felt testimonies many nights before bed which is what made him decide to approach the issue more slowly and cautiously.
Lawmakers view the testimonies of kratom consumers as more credible. Lobbyists and industry spokespersons have their place in defending the jobs and benefit to the local economy, but the testimonies of consumers are especially persuasive.
The AKA has no vendors on our Board of Directors so that we retain the freedom to speak for the heart-warming health turnarounds that we and many of our members have experienced -- and would lose, if a ban was approved. This is very persuasive to lawmakers.
Some vendors take the view that kratom will be banned eventually, so what's the use of fighting it? I disagree. Some plant medicines are irreplaceable; their values innumerable. We aren't willing to live without this unique plant medicine and pleasant social lubricant, any more than we're willing to let coffee or tea to be taken off the legal market.
If you buy your kratom from anyone who doesn't contribute to the AKA, I'd suggest -- for your own sake -- that you take your business to a vendor who does support keeping kratom legal.
Keeping kratom legal in all 50 states for the next 2-3 years is going to be expensive! Nevertheless, it will be a small investment for vendors who will benefit by keeping a safe product in their stores that provides them steady, growing income for years to come.
As the American population ages -- and kratom becomes better known -- kratom will experience massive growth from present levels already astronomical. We look forward to a day when the problem is for farmers, perhaps here as well as in kratom's native countries, to keep up with the demand, once the legality issue is out of the way.
Allowing lawmakers to take away a natural product that is so beneficial to so many people, in order to protect the sales of inferior painkillers and ineffective drug rehab methods, would be unacceptable and a bad precedent to set.
PLEASE DONATE! WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW BEFORE THE NEXT GO-ROUND!
Let's not allow that to happen. If you value having kratom in your life -- or if your business receives substantial revenue from kratom -- please donate to the American Kratom Association today so that we can continue to fight proposed bans nationwide. We run a very lean organization, but we can't continue to keep talented leaders on the job unless we pay them a living wage. If nothing else, show your support by wearing one of our attractive & durable T-shirts and making a donation today.
Thank you all for your support for keeping kratom legal!