It turns out that the government isn’t as broken as we thought, that democracy still works, and we, as a people, do have the power to have our individual voices heard! From the horse’s mouth, a spokesperson for the DEA formally announced that they do not yet have a timetable for scheduling Kratom. Just 4 weeks ago, the DEA made an unprecedented move, and announced that without any notice, without any research, without any public opinion, that they were going to arbitrarily make what could be one of the most important plants of our lifetime illegal. That would prevent any research from taking place, and would place Kratom into Schedule I, which is a schedule for the worst drugs that have no medical value whatsoever.
It only took 137,000 signatures on a petition to the White House, a march on the White House, and 50 Congresspeople to step up the the plate and act as true representatives of the people, by asking the DEA to delay the banning of Kratom, and to instead go through the proper channels if such a serious decision is going to be made. It’s a decision that would make millions of Americans felons overnight, it would put a lot of hard-working people like me out of business, it would leave thousands with families suddenly without jobs, and it would cause untold threats to public safety by forcing millions to look to prescription medication to help with their pain issues.
A second letter drafted by the powerful Orin Hatch (the powerful chair of the Senate Finance Committee) to the DEA is circulating in the U.S. Senate. It calls the scheduling of kratom “unprecedented for a natural substance” and urges a delay in that letter as well. I can’t imagine what it has been like in the DEA offices this past month; daily deluges of phone calls, lobbyists, attorneys, industry people — it would have been at a pitch they’ve never seen before. And, I don’t doubt that very early on, they realized they were caught making a hasty decision, and have been working out a way to save face as a result.
So, although it could still happen, and on the 30th of September, Kratom could still be made into a Schedule I substance. But that is looking increasingly unlikely. Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the DEA reportedly told the Pain News Network; “I don’t have a timetable. It could be this week, could be in the future, I just don’t know.”
Countless Kratom users are rejoicing at the news, although the DEA still has the power to make Kratom a Schedule I substance any time they wish. Online vendors like ShamansGarden and IAmShaman saw a surge in orders, and hired on extra workers to handle the shocking influx of orders.
The Grass Roots movement is unlike any I’ve ever seen before. Lobbyists were mobilized, the American Kratom Association kicked their efforts into hyperdrive, hopping on planes, educating and shaking the hands of lawmakers on a level the herbal industry hasn’t seen before. I’m in a bit of shock as I write this, knowing that the efforts of citiziens of the United States were able to affect a decision by the DEA, and in under 30 days.
I briefly spoke with Susan of the American Kratom Association, and she said; “What we’re hearing from the DEA today is that it’s not going to happen tomorrow (Friday), but that it’s still going to happen.” She went on to say that he was hoping for at least some public hearings, or some compromise on the Scheduling that would at least place it in a far less restrictive category so that research could still continue on this incredibly safe and beneficial plant. “We are not a bunch a bunch of drugged out people. If we were, we wouldn’t be on the phone to DEA, congress people and our senators pleading with them to step in and get a delay,” is a sentiment echoed by millions.
Why did this happen at all? The DEA allegedly acted on pressure from the FDA and the Center for Disease Control who convinced the DEA that Kratom was an “imminent threat to public safety, and needed to be emergency scheduled.” Just a cursory look into the DEA’s notice revealed that their data was flimsy to non-existent, and that the “imminent threat” that the CDC was speaking of, was vastly over-inflated.
The question remains WHY two government organizations over-stated the dangers in order to get the DEA to place Kratom into Schedule I, and to do it via Emergency Scheduling which bypasses all public comment. If a massive outpouring of voices hadn’t spoken, Kratom would have quietly been placed on the same level as heroin and LSD. And that would have been one of the greatest herbal tragedies of my lifetime, without question, as I, too, rely on Kratom to help manage chronic pain.
I’ve been prescribed Norco and Vicodin, but both make my heart race, cause me to sweat, and make me so uncomfortable that I would almost rather deal with the chronic pain than have to rely on that medication. Kratom changed all of that and helps me manage my pain in a way like no prescription medication can. And I’m just one story among millions.
EvenJohn Burke, president of Pharmaceutical Diversion Education, which educates law enforcement and healthcare professionals about prescription drug abuse and diversion, spoke up on behalf of Kratom and said; “We need to be very careful about what we put into Schedule I, especially with limited data. I think that’s a huge mistake.” He went on to say; “What if it’s a legitimate drug that can help people? And now we’re going to make criminals out of them. I just think it’s awfully fast. I would hope that if it is Schedule I that it is given a huge window of research and experimentation”
Wow. The level of support among influential people and lawmakers is staggering. It actually gives me hope for humanity, our government, and the democratic process.
Even if the DEA still chooses to schedule Kratom, even if they decide to place it into Schedule I, they are only creating a vastly bigger problem, and an even greater imminent threat to public safety by doing do. Kratom will not go away. It will simply be forced underground, where it won’t be regulated, prices will rise, quality will go down, and the law abiding citizens who are simply looking for a safe and effective way to manage their pain will be felons.
Let’s all pray that the DEA carefully considers their next move, and takes the high road, even if it means losing a little face, to give Kratom the fair chance it deserves. The people have spoken, articulately, loudly, and with a passion that is going to resonate for a long, long time. They’re already having a heck of a time, and many feel are losing the war on drugs. Do they really need to open themselves up to yet another drug war, fabricated out of inflated misinformation, or will they hear the people who have spoken, and abide by the will of the people?