Recently, the American Kratom Association held a press conference to talk about the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) rescinding its scheduling recommendation for Kratom. Although this action was taken, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to make this information available to the public and policy makers. Unfortunately, this withholding of information left states with inaccurate information about Kratom that influenced policy. In several states this even resulted in a Kratom ban.
This blog will cover a little bit of the FDA’s history with Kratom, as well as the importance of the new information from HHS.
FDA & Kratom Ban History
If you’re familiar with Kratom and public policy, you might know that the FDA does not look at it favorably. In fact, on August 31, 2016, the DEA issued a notice of intent to place Kratom as a Schedule 1 substance. Basically, starting a Kratom ban and labeling it as belonging to the class of most dangerous and severe drugs. Drugs like heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
This intent to schedule was based on a recommendation the FDA received from the HHS. Following the FDA’s announcement on scheduling Kratom, there was a large public backlash. YouTube campaigns were started, people gathered to protest outside of their local government buildings, and thousands of testimonials were sent to representatives. Finally, the FDA pulled their intent to schedule. The public and policymakers assumed this was due to the backlash. As we now know, that’s not quite the whole story.
HHS Rescinds Scheduling Recommendation
So, what is the full story? Well, it turns out that the recommendation letter from the HHS was rescinded. They took it back. There are criteria that a substance must meet in order to be on schedule 1. Kratom does not even nearly meet these requirements.
The full letter details what the requirements for scheduling are, and precisely how Kratom does not meet them. Further, they highlight the “significant risk of immediate adverse public health consequences for potentially millions of users” if Kratom were to be banned. Read the full text of this letter here.
FDA Hides Information; Influences Kratom Bans
Unfortunately, this information from the HHS was not made available to he public or policymakers for over two and a half years. Even though the scheduling decision was halted by the FDA, decisions about Kratom bans were made in cities and states across the country based on HHS’s first letter of scheduling recommendation.
We think this quote from an American Kratom Association spokesman pretty much sums it up:
AKA Press Conference
Below we’ve included the full video press conference by the AKA about this news.
Unfortunately, the FDA failing to disclose this information from the HHS had a significant impact. States and policymakers went with the information that they had, that Kratom had been recommended as a very dangerous drug. As a result, 5 states have entire Kratom bans, and individual cities in some states have banned the plant also. This was an unfortunate example of government not serving their people. Even the HHS states the possible harm in banning Kratom, and expresses the importance of further research into its positive uses.
A look on the bright side, however, is that this information is out there now. There are representatives like Congressman Mark Pocan fighting for Kratom research, safety, and availability. Hopefully, Kratom research will be fueled by this incentive, and places with Kratom bans will revisit those regulations.