Kratom in US – Battle for Legitimacy

Today I’ll write about a widely discussed yet largely misunderstood
subject in the Kratom world. An ongoing battle, between two belligerents
fighting for and against its legitimacy. Despite the ever-increasing force differential
between both belligerents, the fight is still ongoing. With an aim to better
explain my proposition, in this blog I’ll break down the larger complicated problem
into smaller parts for better understanding.

Let me first demystify the Kratom powder which holds
so many benefits for almost everyone yet grossly misunderstood by some. The
painful irony is that such a beautiful gift from nature is rather misjudged,
owing to corporate interests of multi-billion-dollar conglomerates dominating
the domestic and global markets today. Why, just for the purpose of corporate
financial interests, deprive the humanity of something which is not only
beneficial in limitless ways, but a source of affordable recreation and rejuvenation?
Do they have justified reasons or are there any underlying motives?

Alright, I’ll confess at the very onset that the best
card those individuals and corporations with vested interests have played is
the card of apparent scientific reasoning. Actually, more of technical verbiages
and fluff to sound more convincing. But it worked to some extent. So, how to reply
to them? Or more importantly, how to explain to the consumers who want to keep
using it but have become somewhat concerned? Well, as I said in the start, in
this blog I’ll factually elaborate various facts regarding the issue, weighing
benefits of Kratom consumption versus the risks “associated” with it and towards
the end, I’ll present my proposition along with the way forward.

A Word about Kratom

For those who do not know, or have little knowledge
about the Kratom, I’ll go over a brief overview of it. Native to the
Philippines, Indonesia Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and adjacent countries in
Southeast Asia, Kratom belongs the same family as the coffee plant. Notwithstanding
that Kratom in US has only been widely used for more or less a decade now,
elsewhere people have been benefiting from its various dividends for centuries.
Kratom is also used as an herbal remedy by millions of people worldwide.

Herbal Remedy? What for?

Herbal remedy for a number of health and mental conditions,
actually. People buy Kratom in US for numerous reasons. There is a wide range
of issues which can be addressed through Kratom usage. In addition to hundreds
of thousands of Kratom users in US reporting improved quality-of-life and
becoming better as regards to their mental and physical activity, the science
also acknowledges the wide range of benefits associated with the presence of beneficial
Alkaline compounds in the molecular structure of various varieties of Kratom. Some
of the associated benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Kratom being an anti-inflammatory and analgesic compound, relieves pain because of migraines, arthritis, neuropathy, fibromyalgia and bone injuries etc.
  • Feelings of anxiety depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders can also be treated. Kratom works by creating a strong sense of calm, state of constant worrying and nervousness by releasing endorphins and raising serotonin levels.
  • Many individuals suffering from tension headaches, chronic insomnia, and panic attacks reported lessening of these issues subsequent to using Kratom.
  • Specific varieties of Elephant Kratom induce a calming influence. Others boost the energy levels, help guard against sluggishness, combat fatigue and also improve focus and concentration. The result is increased productivity at work, exercise routines and even help running daily household errands.
  • Kratom is also proven to be effective at fighting opioids addictions like that of heroin etc. It may also help eliminate or reduce addiction to alcohol and other substances. As a secondary benefit of helping to curb the cravings by being an appetite suppressant, Kratom can also be helpful for weight loss.
  • Certain Kratom varieties are also helpful in treating conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. People have also reported Kratom to aid them in lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Usage of Kratom in US – A Statistical Analysis

A survey conducted in September 2016 with
the support of American Kratom Association (AKA) involving a sample population
of 6,150 Kratom users found that:

  • According to the survey, about five million people buy Kratom
    in US regularly.
  • 51% users who buy Kratom in US reportedly use it for pain, 9%
    to ease opiate withdrawal and 14% for anxiety.
  • For the users who use Kratom for dealing with pain, 38% use
    if for spine or back, 9% for Fibromyalgia, 3% for Osteoarthritis and 15% for
    other reasons.
  • Overwhelming majority of Kratom users (98 %) does not believe
    it to be dangerous or harmful.
  • 95% of the consumers believed that making Kratom illegal
    would be detrimental to society.
  • 66% of them claimed that they would get addicted to and risk
    overdosing on another substance if Kratom is declared illegal.

(Please note: 
AKA made no medical-related claims for kratom in connection with this
published survey)

Attempts to Make Kratom Illegal

Despite the huge
health-related benefits associated with the consumption of Kratom in USA in
addition to its recreational uses, federal
government regulation bodies have made several, albeit unsuccessful attempts to
make it illegal.

With rising
popularity and awareness of the various medicinal advantages of Kratom vis-a-vis
so many diseases and illnesses, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) attempted
to get Kratom enlisted in the legal category of other substances such as
marijuana and heroin, only to be stopped by extraordinary reaction from the civil
society and some members of congress. A ban was also recommended in October
2017 by The Department of Health and Human Services while recognizing some
psychological and behavioural benefits linked with Kratom consumption. States
which have altogether banned the Kratom plant in its various forms are Arkansas,
Alabama, Indiana, Vermont Wisconsin.

Should Kratom in US be Banned?

question: To buy
Kratom in US be declared an
illegal act because of a few potential risks attributed to it? The clear and
unambiguous answer is “no”. Ask yourself, should the government deprive
hundreds of thousands of people of an opportunity to carry-on with their lives
in a perfectly normal way? Should the lawmakers stop people from becoming an
effective member of their society by performing better at their work or being
happier in their private lives? Should people be deprived of controlling their
pain which results from a medical condition? And do the policymakers have a mandate
to stop people from controlling their anxiety, depression or PTSD? Nature has
given them a remedy, why should another human take it away?

Furthermore, not only
a ban would prohibit people from using Kratom for their own benefits, but at
the same time, it would also hamper the researchers in studying its potential
benefits which are yet to be discovered. A ban, therefore, would do nothing to
help the society. Rather it would further complicate the issue.

Impending Disaster from the Ban

The ban, if imposed,
will result in two inter-linked but dangerous outcomes:

  • First and foremost, it will
    result in the Kratom businesses going secretive, affecting the quality and
    purity of Kratom powder itself which would then be handled by organized
    criminal groups. Results would be increased violence, crime and breaking of law
    and order in the streets.
  • Secondly, a substantial
    number of existing Kratom users would want to continue using it, hence buying
    from illegal sources, resulting in those illegal groups benefiting financially
    and gaining more street-power.

As a result of the
two dangerous hypotheses discusses above, it is foreseen that a ban will
indirectly lead to more people getting hurt and sick, while governments would
deprive themselves of an important source of revenue and income in forms of
direct and indirect taxes from the Kratom businesses. Needless to say, there is
a huge number of individuals across the country who are directly and indirectly
employed in the Kratom businesses, earning their livelihoods and contributing
to the national GNP.

Proposed Way Forward:

Without a clear understanding
of underlying causes of issues attributed with consumption of Kratom in US, the
problem cannot be resolved. Most people agree that there is a need of deeper
research into the Kratom benefits and effects. But sadly, the approach of “one
solution fits all” is being applied and is clearly not working.

                    “When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”

Solutions are often neither Black nor White. They mostly fall somewhere in those Gray areas which are in between the two extremes. It is the need of the hour to devise truly effective strategies by taking all the stakeholders onboard, not just the lawmakers and enforcers. The researchers, doctors, pharmacists, business owners and most importantly the consumers themselves must be involved in the decision-making process. A person who goes out to buy Kratom in US to improve his health and mental condition would want to continue to live happily and must never be told to stop using it. A consensus must therefore be reached, mutually agreed by all stakeholders, addressing all genuine concerns of both sides. Only then the issue can tr