There was a glimmer of hope for the absurdly unfair Emergency Scheduling of Kratom by the DEA today. If you’re not up on the current status of Kratom and how it’s in severe danger of being made a Schedule I substance, catch up with this article first, then make your way back to here. Kratom is scheduled to become a Schedule I Drug (no medical value whatsoever), on September 30, 2016.
On September 12, 2016, a cogent, and extremely well-informed letter was sent to the DEA by the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness. The letter started out by stating, in no uncertain terms, both the credentials of the authors of the letter, as well as a succinct overview of the content of their letter:
Having worked as a regulatory official in five1 Presidential Administrations, I understand that regulatory policy is not and should not be determined via plebiscite; however, in the instance of Kratom, when 100,000 2members of the public express outrage with a regulatory decision, it deserves a second look. Consequently CRE, in its role as a nationally3 recognized regulatory watchdog, is going to investigate this matter.
One of their first arguments was what we addressed in the above article; accountability by the DEA regarding their reasons for deeming Kratom and imminent public health threat. In their August 31, 2016 Federal Register notice that places Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine into Schedule I, they claim that the “consumption of kratom individually,or in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs, is of serious concern as it can lead to severe adverse effects and death.”
Curiously enough though, as the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness letter points out; “The FR notice, however, left out the crucial supporting data that is necessary to understand the information provided by DEA and to it place in a policy context.”
We live in a democratic country. Federal Agencies aren’t supposed to have he ability to make such an unfair move, yet here we are. The letter continues:
Thus, one federal agency–law enforcement agency–DEA, is in the process of making the possession of kratom a felony at the same time that a journal edited by the Principal Investigator of another federal agency, the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, published an article which concluded that “more scientific clinical human studies are necessary to determine [kratom’s] potential therapeutic value.”
This is one of the more lucid points I’ve seen regarding how arbitrarily the DEA has acted. With Emergency Scheduling, they claim to have “overwhelming evidence” that Kratom is an imminent public danger, yet another Federal Agency, comprised of scientists, has stated the exact opposite. And, a casual glance on Google brings up countless scientific studies that show the safety as well as the effectiveness of Kratom.
The letter goes on to outline several other agencies who have deemed Kratom worthy of further research, which flies in the face of the DEA acting as arbitrarily as it just has.
The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness also feels that the DEA is unilaterally outlawing the possession of kratom at the same time that Health Canada, a regulatory agency with which the US coordinates closely, lists kratom as a permitted Natural Health Product (NHP). DEA’s unilateral actions to declare illegal a botanical that is recognized by Health Canada as a Natural Health Product threatens the FDA’s regulatory recognition of Canada and with it the basis of US and Canadian regulatory cooperation.
This may be reaching just a bit, but the point is made. A country closely aligned with on on countless levels has deemed Kratom a “permitted Natural Health Product,” yet the DEA has ignored Canada, Thailand, University of Massachusetts Medical School, the University of Mississippi, the National Institute of Health, the National Institute for Drug Abuse, and the National Center for Research Resources, just to name a few.
In an equally as sobering point brought up by the CRE, they speak of how scheduling Kratom in the way the DEA plans to, is opening the door for a massive black market for Kratom, which also opens the doors to the very criminal organizations they claim to be fighting. The CRE points out that the White House’s Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) states that one of its “five overarching policy objectives” is breaking “the economic power of transnational criminal networks and protect[ing] strategic markets and the U.S. financial system from TOC penetration and abuse.” They say;
Unfortunately, the DEA’s scheduling action on kratom undermines the Strategy’s policy objective because it would create large financial opportunities for transnational criminal organizations by declaring illegal a substance which is in widespread and growing use in the US and which is legally available on the other side of our very long Northern border.
This speaks nothing of the economic fallout that the scheduling of Kratom will leave in its wake. Thousands of jobs will be lost as an entire industry will have a massive vacuum to fill. Supply chains, from farmer, to distributor, to wholesaler, to retail, to the end customer will cause undue havoc on the segment of American people who have come to rely on this safe and effective herbal product. What will happen to the tens of thousands of people who currently rely on Kratom as an effective means of pain relief? What about the thousands who have found Kratom to be a safe and effective alternative to dangerous prescription medications? What about those trying to beat their addiction to heroin and other clearly dangerous drugs by working with a safe and effective natural herbal product?
Kratom will not simply disappear. It will be forced underground, just like every other substance has been. Look at what a disaster alcohol prohibition was. Look at what’s happening now as the Federal Government refuses to remove Cannabis from the Controlled Substances list, despite an American majority of people approving of its use. Kratom is such a massive industry that there absolutely needs to be some sort of study of the economic fallout before any scheduling can occur. In fact, the CRE touches on this as well in their letter:
…somewhat surprising for a law enforcement agency, it failed to disclose any analysis of the likelihood that a ban on kratom in the United States would create an environment for transnational crime linked to the funding of organized crime and terrorist organizations since kratom is a legal product in Canada. It would behoove DEA to spend as much time on the criminal implications of its position as it did on the claimed health consequences.”
One doesn’t have to be for or against the scheduling of Kratom. It just takes a reasonable mind, open enough to consider the facts. I don’t have to know how I feel about Kratom to see how unfair this arbitrary move by the DEA is. I don’t have to get into any ethical or moral discussions to see what havoc emergency scheduling will cause for tens of thousands of end users, businesses, and what doors it will open for criminal organizations to fill the void that Kratom has left.
Can’t we all take a breath, listen to the data, and take time to make a conscious decision with the safety of the American people in mind, in due time? There’s clearly no imminent public health threat. The DEA is clearly violating its own laws by placing Kratom onto the Schedule I list of drugs. The CRE letter said it clearly and succinctly:
In its rush to judgment DEA has violated several of the most fundamental statutes which” regulate the regulators”, including the Data (Information) Quality Act, Executive Order 12866 and OMB’s Peer Review guidelines.
Time will tell. Protests are occurring in Washington, the Kratom industry are rallying around this safe and effective herbal product, and high-power lobbyists are doing their best to reverse what I don’t doubt will prove to be one of the most arbitrary, possibly illegal, and at least incredibly unfair moves by the DEA in recent history.