In 2016, the FDA announced plans to restrict the sale and use of kratom, a natural opioid type drug popular with recovering addicts and sufferers of chronic pain. While it hasn’t yet managed to push through a ban, it continues to lobby for new laws, as it believes the plant is seriously harmful to health.
Unsurprisingly, there are many who reject this notion. Users of kratom, including opiate addicts and those with chronic diseases, say the drug relieves pain and helps to ease cravings. There are others who take it simply to relax and unwind. Although kratom is often sold as a ‘legal high,’ it is more typically used for pain relief and stress management.
The question is, what’s going to happen to the sale and use of kratom in the future? This article takes a look at some recent Kratom news stories.
The Latest Crackdown
It’s unclear why the FDA didn’t attempt to pass a full ban, as promised. It is certainly cracking down on manufacturers and distributors. In May, it issued warning letters to three companies for marketing and selling the drug as a treatment for opioid addiction. It claims the sellers lacked reliable evidence to support any of their medical assertions.
The crackdown has led to a bitter standoff between regulators and recovering addicts, who argue kratom is the best solution to America’s spiraling opioid crisis. They say severe withdrawal symptoms become much more manageable when dosing with the plant. The FDA, on the other hand, says it can end up making life worse for addicts.
Taking the Fight to Washington
In June, kratom advocates took their fight to Capitol Hill, with a three-day rally outside the government building. It was, by all accounts, a very peaceful affair. The goal was to educate policymakers on what they say are the positive outcomes of using this drug. Many believe a total ban would lead to unnecessary suffering, even suicides, among chronic pain patients.
The rally was the last ditch attempt to convince the government that the benefits of using kratom outweigh any negatives. It will be an uphill struggle, however. The FDA seems determined to achieve a widespread ban. It leans on arguments provided by six states that have already outlawed kratom powders and pills.Getting Support from Scientists
It’s important to point out that it’s not just kratom users rejecting a potential ban. Many scientists are coming out in favour of advocates, with claims that new laws could make the current opioid crisis worse. They’re also puzzled by the sudden insistence on tighter regulations, as the drug has been considered harmless for many decades.
They say it’s disingenuous for the FDA to behave as if kratom is a new and unfamiliar danger. Its mild opioid properties have been recognized since the nineties. Andrew Kruegel, a pharmacologist at Columbia University, suggests the government has no reliable evidence of its own to prove any deaths can be exclusively attributed to kratom use.
What Is the Future for Kratom and Its Advocates?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the FDA is reluctant to seriously consider claims kratom could be a helpful substance for some. It continues to push for new laws but, interestingly, many states are now getting interested in arguments for advocacy.
Due to the work of campaigners, policymakers are at least opening their eyes to the possibility that this isn’t a black and white issue. Even those who are worried about its use want better reassurances that a ban is going to improve lives, not worsen them.