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?

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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?

Multimillion-dollar 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