The entire Kratom community is currently watching anxiously as a single meeting by the World Health Organization could radically change the future of the burgeoning supplement. The WHO could decide to schedule, a.k.a ban, kratom worldwide.
Where Did Kratom Stand?
Within the country, Kratom advocates are touting the substance as a possible replacement for opioids. They argue this could see millions who are currently facing addiction off the drugs. In 2020, about 70,000 were lost to the opioid crisis. And although the general opinion on Kratom may not be unified, what is clear is the majority of the public is behind the substance. At the point of writing, the government has tried to restrict Kratom’s use twice by labelling it a controlled substance. But, pushback by congress and the public ended those plans.
Today, there are those who believe that this interest shown by the global institution could be an attempt by Washington to accomplish what it could not do. This time, on a global scale. At the moment, the WHO’s drug dependence committee will be conducting a pre-review analysis of Kratom. This analysis could then be used by global health regulators as a way to further scrutinize the drug. This potentially puts it on a path of being classified as a controlled substance.
Proponents say that by scheduling the drug, the U.S. or WHO are creating more obstacles to get it studied. It’s a similar cry to numerous complaints from researchers within the country looking to study cannabis for over 50 years. Those researchers were only able to study “research-grade” marijuana that was from one federally approved facility.
According to a professor at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine – Albert Perez Garcia-Romeu; “Making this a prohibited substance is going to actually encourage people to go use more dangerous drugs,”
FDA Against Kratom
But a spokesman for the FDA, the agency would seek out the public’s opinion on Kratom if the WHO recommends any sort of ban on Kratom. And although the FDA might look to be holding off on scheduling Kratom, it is important to note that their public comment notice indicated that their view on Kratom is extremely low. In fact, the FDA had this to say about it; “Kratom is an increasingly popular drug of abuse and readily available on the recreational drug market in the United States,”
For individuals familiar with the history of the FDA and Kratom, these comments shouldn’t be too much of a shock as the FDA as continued to be highly critical of the natural supplement. They’ve placed numerous distributors on notice on claims of false marketing. In addition to this, the last two administrations also tried to ban the supplement. Of course, only to pull back when met by huge support for the supplements by the public. They also received support from members of congress including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and former GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.
Kratom in the U.S.A.
Kratom’s popularity has continued to grow all through the 2000s thanks in part to the opioid crisis. This false representation however, led the DEA to label it a ‘drug of concern’. Currently, it is illegal in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Some states like Arizona and Utah have passed laws to regulate it.
Another reason for more scrutiny in Kratom is the way its major components interact with the opioid receptors in the brain. But Professor Romeu was quick to debunk that. He notes that the drug doesn’t slow breathing to the extent traditional opioids do. “It’s a double-edged sword that has abuse potential, but it also has medical potential,” he said.
Research on Kratom
Professor Garcia even conducted a survey in 2017 with a sample size of close to 3000 regulars Kratom in the country. According to the data, the supplement was used by most people to treat the symptoms of anxiety, depression, pain and opioid withdrawal. And 41 percent reported using kratom to wean themselves off opioids, with more than a third of that group saying they stayed off those drugs for more than year.
Those results and other studies are definite proof that Kratom is not only saving lives, it is healing lives. According to Professor Garcia – “When you see something like that, the signal is that, hey, you might have an effective treatment here for opioid dependence”
According to Mac Haddow of the American Kratom Association, Kratom’s future should see it regulated as a food product so the raw materials are tested for contaminants like salmonella and heavy metals. FDA regulation also would require good manufacturing processes and labeling requirements.
What Can You Do To Help?
Finally, as we roll down the days to this impending analysis by the World Health Organization, it is important our community comes together and bands their voice together. A great way to do this is to join the American Kratom Association. It’s home to hundreds of thousands of Kratom users and vendors. You can sign up here and join us to prevent any harmful bans to Kratom!