A kratom petition has been started with the White House in response to an announcement last Tuesday from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with regard to its intention to add the “active” components of the plant to the list of Schedule I drugs believed to have no true therapeutic value, which includes heroin, marijuana, and peyote, as reported by the DEA.
The Young Turks and other media outlets are describing the move, if enacted, as amounting to kratom ban. It is claimed that kratom can “help recovering opiate addicts treat pain” and “combat depression and anxiety.”
In order to prompt a presidential response, petitions with the White House are required to attract at least 100,000 signatures. The kratom petition was started on August 30, and has already gained over 55,000 signatures.
“I’m a recovering opiate addict,” a caller to the Tim Black At Night show stated on Friday evening with regard to the kratom ban. “I was handed an addiction by a man in a white jacket, that I trusted.”
The woman went on to describe her addiction to opiates as being “hopeless” for a 10-year period. She cited kratom as being the only thing that has been able to help her live a normal life again.
“They are going to take it away from all these addicts that it’s helped. That have reintegrated into society. We’re scared. We don’t know what we’re going to do,” Shannon stated about the DEA kratom ban that is currently slated to go into effect on September 30, 30 days after the initial DEA announcement.
Given that the kratom petition has already garnered well over half of the necessary signatures for a response from President Obama in just six days, it seems likely that the remainder could be gained in the 25 days remaining before the ban goes into effect. Whether or not the president will intervene with an executive order or other action remains to be seen.
The DEA reports that over 100,000 kilograms of kratom was either encountered by the agency or offered for sale by exporters into the United States between 2014 and 2016. This amounts to over 12 million doses of kratom’s active ingredients: mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Federal figures indicate 15 deaths related to kratom use between 2014 and 2016.
Ana Kasparian, with The Young Turks, warned users that deaths related to kratom appear to usually occur when it is mixed with, or consumed at the same time as, other drugs.
— Nina Ajdin (@Neenahh1) September 4, 2016
— Sarah white (@Nannypro900) September 4, 2016
Statistics on poisoning in the United States indicate 660 calls involving exposure to kratom between 2010 and 2015, up from only 6 from 2000 to 2005. By comparison, the State of Washington was said to have received 246 marijuana calls in 2014, up from 158 in 2013, thought to be related to the state’s legalization of recreational use of the drug, as reported by AP.
According to Florence, Alabama’s Times Daily, deaths related to heroin use in Jefferson County increased 140 percent in 2014 and officials in Colbert and Lauderdale counties acknowledged an increase in heroin use in 2015, following a 2013 kratom ban and a crackdown on legal, but heavily regulated pharmaceutical opiates, such as Oxycontin.
Doctors are said to have become wary of prescribing the addictive medications out of fear of prosecution by the DEA. Patients engaging in “doctor shopping,” the practice of obtaining more pills that legitimately required by visiting multiple physicians in a short period, are also said to be targets of law enforcement.
The Times Daily described the situation in Alabama as being similar to a game of “whack-a-mole.”
If the kratom petition fails in blocking the DEA ban, the botanical will likely remain on the Schedule I list for at least two years.
“The never do an emergency un-scheduling of a drug,” The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur stated with regard to the “emergency” DEA kratom ban. “We’ve proven a thousand times over that marijuana clearly has some benefits, so it shouldn’t be a Schedule I drug, at minimum.”
Let us know your thoughts on the kratom ban and whether or not the botanical has had a positive or negative effect on your life, or the lives of your loved ones, in the comments below.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]