Author: Shernide Delva
Recently, we wrote about how the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the controversial decision to ban kratom by making it a Schedule I drug. While the ban is set to go into effect by the end of this week, advocates of the herbal supplement refuse to go down without a fight. A bipartisan group of 51 House lawmakers recently joined the chorus of opposition to the DEA’s upcoming ban.
To give a quick overview: Back in late August, the DEA announced it would prohibit kratom due to various reports of health implications associated with the use of the drug. The ban would temporarily add Kratom to the schedule 1 category of narcotics along with substances like Marijuana, heroin, and LSD.
The DEA made it clear the decision was due to kratom’s high potential for abuse and the lack of medical benefit of the drug. However, advocates passionately argue that kratom is useful for drug withdrawal and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Therefore, placing kratom in the schedule 1 category would effectively ban it from those who regularly use the drug. Many users find the drug useful in treating, pain, depression, high blood pressure among other ailments.
The ban sparked a broad range of controversy. Now, members of Congress have joined the chorus of opposition. A bipartisan group of 51 House Representatives just signed a letter urging DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay the ban.
“As our nation continues to combat the public health crisis of opioid abuse, the federal government has invested significant resources to develop alternative pain management strategies,” reads the letter.
The letter urged the delay to continue the federally funded study of kratom as a possible treatment option for opioid withdrawal. By placing kratom on the Schedule I category, the letter states it will “put a halt on federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions.”
While kratom is not for everyone, many find it a compelling alternative to prescription drugs. Earlier this month, Susan Ash, founder of the American Kratom Association, revealed that her organization has been receiving thousands of calls from people across the United States concerned about losing kratom and resorting to prescription drugs instead.
“I am completely swamped,” Ash told The Fix. “I have thousands of people afraid of relapse. People are explicitly telling us they are terrified of losing their quality of life or even their lives.”
51 House Representatives Urges Delay On Ban
The House representatives’ letter to the DEA urges them to delay the ban and allow more time to consult with “consumers, researcher, and other stakeholders.” When the ban was initially passed, the DEA did not allow any opposition in regards to their decision to ban kratom.
Instead, the DEA argued their decision was valid by citing a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which stated that kratom poisoning was the cause for 660 calls to poison centers across the country between 2010 and 2015. The DEA argued that these numbers clearly indicated the need for the ban. They also pointed to 16 reported kratom-related deaths between 2014 and 2016 to further justify their decision.
Still, these numbers are far overshadowed by other drugs, both legal and illegal. Those in opposition point to the numbers of calls the poison control center receives over laundry pod poisonings. These calls far surpass the number of calls they receive in regards to kratom. Both the House lawmakers and kratom advocates think it is not a good idea to restrict access to Kratom when so many people are searching for safer pain relief alternatives rather than prescription pills.
“This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
Kratom does have the potential for abuse. However, it does have potential medical benefits. While the use of any drug is not ideal, the reality is harm reduction remains a crucial topic of discussion. Further research is needed before a ban on kratom is made. Do you agree with the ban?
Overall, if you are struggling with any substance abuse, legal or illegal, you need to research out for treatment. We have the tools to help in your recovery. Do not wait. Call today.