When money is scarce, Margo Burton and her husband are going to run out of cigarettes. Sometimes her husband has to go without using his cell phone for weeks.
But the loss that she feels most acutely is when she runs out of a herbal supplement called kratom. It takes two teaspoons of it every three hours to control the debilitating pain caused by endometriosis.
“I need it so I don’t hurt, so I can be a good mother,” said Burton, a 31-year-old toddler’s mom at home in southeast Missouri.
So when she read the news that the Drug Enforcement Administration is going to ban kratom for two years—putting it in the same legal category as heroin and LSD—she started sobbing. She could hardly talk as she woke her husband to be comforted.
From the point of view of the DEA, kratom is a dangerous, life-threatening drug that is creating a “public health crisis.” But for daily kratom users like Burton, the drug is a lifeline. “A lot of people are going to go into deep depression and commit suicide, or go back to dangerous drugs that make them OD,” Burton said.
It’s easy to dismiss kratom users as herbal remedies enthusiasts, intent on using psychoactive plants as much as they like. Instead, the decision of the DEA revealed a hidden national network of advocates, educators, and devotees who talk about discovering the kratom of the way some Christians talk about being born again.
A lot of people use it to try to wean themselves off opioids. Others use it to manage pain due to autoimmune disorders or car accidents. Veterans use it to suppress their post-traumatic disorder. Users recognize that there are risks associated with an unregulated substance, so they have linked together on the Internet to vet kratom vendors and mentor new converts.
The community is now ramping up to fight the DEA. Susan Ash, the founder and director of the American Kratom Association, is at the center of this struggle.
Differing Perceptions of Kratom
At the time of the August 31 notice of intent of the DEA, six US states (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin), Washington, DC, and at least 15 countries, including Thailand, had prohibited Kratom. It had been included in the “Drugs of Concern” list of the DEA since 2005.1,9 After the notification, there was an outpouring of people who came to defend the plant. Within two weeks, a petition on We the People (petitions.whitehouse.gov) asking the White House to stop the scheduling had garnered nearly 125,000 signatures (and more than 143,000 signatures in press time for this article) in excess of the 100,000 needed to receive a response.
In the days leading up to the original proposed scheduling date, 51 members of the House of Representatives, encouraged by the Botanical Education Alliance, an organization whose stated mission is to preserve plant legality through education, formally requested that the DEA delay the scheduling.15 Shortly thereafter, Senator Orrin Hatch (R–UT), the most senior Republican senator, wrote a letter asking for a delay.
Days later, Senator Cory Booker (D–NJ), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D–NY) and Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) wrote an emphatic letter to DEA Acting Commissioner Chuck Rosenberg, echoing Hatch’s requests. They cited the eight-fold increase in US prison population as a result of the enforcement of “draconian drug laws,” writing: “We should not, in haste and without adequate opportunity for comment and analysis, place substances in categories that may be inconsistent with their medical value and potential for abuse.
Are You Looking for an Amazing Kratom Store Near You?
If you happen to live in San Antonio, Texas we have locations throughout the city ready to serve you! Stop by for high-quality CBD and Hemp products that come with reliable lab reports. With locations across several states to serve you, and our convenient online store, when you shop with Mary Jane’s you know you will only get the best Kratom products on the market today. If you don’t live in one of these areas, don’t worry! You can check out our online store and get CBD products shipped directly to you!