Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), the miracle herb used worldwide for both therapeutic and recreational purposes, has a controversial past. The regulatory authorities, despite the lack of proper evidence or research, have pushed to ban the magic herb quite a number of times.
Kratom Trees are found primarily in the Southeast Asian region, and the leaves of the tree are then used to make kratom powder or liquid extracts. Thus, despite what many people assume, Kratom, also known as Ketum or Kakuam, is a 100% natural herb from a long history dating back to 100 years. It has been used by humans to treat different illnesses.
But despite such amazing benefits, are you wondering why it was banned in the US in the past?
Well, that is exactly what we will discuss in this article. After reading the complete article, we promise that we will prove to you that these bans were unwarranted and exaggerated.
Why was Kratom placed on schedule 1 by DEA?
The rise in the popularity of Mitragyna speciosa caught the eye of the regulatory authorities. The DEA stance on Ketum is not firm. It placed a temporary ban on the completely legal drug kratom due to concerns regarding its safety and health impacts. However, the strong public backlash forced them to reconsider their decision.
On 31st August 2016, the DEA placed Ketum on schedule 1. If you do not know, let us tell you that placing a drug on Schedule 1 means that, according to DEA, a drug has no medicinal use, and it is likely that the public will abuse it.
Thus, schedule 1 allows DEA to temporarily ban the drug for two years with an available extension of 1 more year to research and gather evidence to permanently ban a drug. Thus, DEA put Kratom on schedule 1, stating that they cannot find any medical use of Ketum and that the drug has a high potential for abuse.
The DEA also noted that Mitragyna speciosa is easily available in smoke shops, Head Shops, and online on the internet, giving the easy public access to Kratom and increasing the chances of its abuse.
So why did the DEA fail to keep the ban on Kratom intact?
The fact that DEA stated that Ketum has medical use was a challenge, and strong public backlash and the petition to the white house forced the DEA to reconsider their stance. The proponents of Mitragyna speciosa claimed that it helps in managing pain, anxiety, depression, etc.
The fact that Kratom is way safer than prescription opioids and can be used as a substitute to opioids directly raised the questions regarding DEA claims that Mitragyna speciosa has no medical use.
On 13th October 2016, the DEA took an unprecedented move. It withdrew the temporary ban on Ketum in less than three months, and the safe and incredibly helpful herb was and still is completely legalized.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) & Mitragyna speciosa
The FDA has banned and tried to ban Kratom in the past but was unsuccessful every time. In September 2014, the FDA seized more than 25,000 pounds of raw Ketum, worth more than $5 million.
In 2016 FDA again seized 90000 bottles of dietary supplement labeled as containing Ketum. Again in 2016, FDA seized products worth $150,000 labeled as Mitragyna speciosa. Even today, when Kratom is legal, it has serious concerns regarding it.
FDA claims that Ketum has been reported to cause 47 deaths on various different occasions. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has reiterated that all such deaths occurred adulterated products meaning Mitragyna speciosa was combined with other drugs.
Ketum surely has medicinal benefits as it used in the past to treat diarrhea, joint pains, headache, anxiety, etc. It is still used by many due to its amazing benefits like pain relief, anxiety relief, substance withdrawal, improved cognitive ability, and amazing effects like incredible calming and soothing effects. Thus, FDA also failed to counter any of the above-mentioned medicinal benefits of Ketum.
In fact, the research on Kratom can reveal exciting uses of Kratom in the world of medicine. However, the ban and stance of the FDA on Mitragyna speciosa is hurting and discouraging any research conducted on Ketum as researches fear that their entire money, time, and efforts will get wasted if FDA suddenly bans it in the future.
Even today, when thousands of people claim that Mitragyna speciosa helped them fight multiple diseases, there are no FDA-approved uses of Ketum.
Role of Opponents in spreading false and misleading information about Kratom
Drug companies are the ones that can conduct proper study and research on the Kratom. They can test the miracle drug in their chemistry labs to understand the potential benefits and threats of Ketum.
Despite the fact that Kratom has proven itself to treat common diseases and helps in substance withdrawal, no proper research has been done, nor has it been used as a pain killer by the hospitals. Ketum is proven to be as effective as morphine with far fewer risks when compared to morphine.
But then the question arises that why a drug with the potential of substituting an old riskier drug is not being researched by big pharma?
Well, as you might have guessed by now, the existing big pharma companies will have to incur millions of rupees in the research for Ketum. They ask themselves why we should spend money on researching an alternative drug when we are earning enough from prescription morphine and other pain killers.
Only one big pharma giant, now known as GSK, tried bringing Mitragyna speciosa to the market in 1960. However, the research capability and the external environment did not allow Kratom’s introduction back in the 1960s.
Another Problem in Research
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been pushing to research more on the Ketum so that they can understand the drug in all its aspects. However, the stance on Kratom of the different institutes is not clear and, at times opposing.
National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that they have never heard of Kratom. In contrast, the National Center for Complementary and Alt Medicine claims that they cannot approve any grants for the research on Mitragyna speciosa as they regarded it as a drug of abuse.
Economic Competition with Big pharma
On the other hand, big companies are reluctant to pay huge sums in Kratom’s research and trials.
Well, mainly because of the two reasons: Costs and competition.
No company is happy to pay millions of money and waste the time of their employees to research on Kratom only to see its competitors enjoy the same benefits.
What this means is that once the FDA approves Mitragyna speciosa after long and costly trials, competitors also get to market and sell the drug without spending any money of their own on the research and development of Mitragyna speciosa.
Political Impacts on the legality of Mitragyna speciosa
According to the information provided by the American Kratom Association (AKA), around five million people in the US use Kratom regularly. The fact that the Mitragyna speciosa was becoming widely popular due to its amazing properties caught the eyes of regulators who quickly sought to temporarily ban the drug.
They quickly started blocking imports of Kratom as Kratom is widely grown in southeastern countries. The authorities even criminalized Mitragyna speciosa to the same level as heroin and marijuana.
However, the general public and the American Kratom Association (AKA), a pro kratom lobbyist, protested against the ban on the grounds that Kratom has some magnificent healing effects and can be used for therapeutic purposes.
Moreover, Mitragyna speciosa alone has never been reported to cause any deaths. Thus, severe public backlash and petitions to the white house put significant pressure on the regulatory authorities to withdraw the Kratom ban.
Is Kratom dangerous?
Well, the short answer is No. Mitragyna speciosa, unlike morphine and heroin, is not a substance but an herb coming from the tree of a coffee family.
No evidence exists that links to an individual’s death due to taking Kratom even when overdosing it. However, certain deaths were reported when Mitragyna speciosa was mixed with other strong drugs.
Now we have established that Kratom cannot kill you; let us tell you what happens if you abuse it. Well, each and everything in the world will harm you if you take it excessively. The same is the case with Mitragyna speciosa. If you start overdoing Kratom, it may show adverse side effects like Nausea, Headache, sweating, cough, etc.
What is the current status of Mitragyna Speciosa legality in the US?
On the federal level, Kratom is completely legal in the US. The majority of the states have also declared Kratom legal; however, certain law enforcement agencies show a lot of concerns regarding Kratom’s legality but are unable to provide any justification.
Some states in which Kratom is banned are mentioned below:
As for the rest of the world, the Ketum is mostly legal worldwide, with the exception of a few countries.
Media Negative Campaign Against Kratom Due to Lack of Information
Media also has played a role in downplaying the true potential of Ketum. At times, it has regarded Ketum as drugs like marijuana, heroin, and morphine. They have drawn similarities between Mitragyna speciosa and other previously legal drugs in the beginning and then later banned due to their harmful effects.
However, it is not true as Kratom is completely different from other substances. Often, journalists did not have proper knowledge about Ketum, so they relied on the news provided by the FDA, which were mostly negative and biased yet lacking evidence.
Negative Impacts of the FDA’s position on Kratom
Since the public backlash and legalization of Mitragyna speciosa, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not regulating Ketum in any way. No check and balance on the suppliers mean that many vendors started mixing other low-quality substances with Kratom.
Worse, many started selling fake Kratom. No benchmark for Ketum resulted in low-quality Mitragyna speciosa being sold on smoke shops, head shops, and certain online sites.
However, hundreds of online vendors are now following GMP and other guidelines laid down by American Kratom Association (AKA).
Please do not be hesitant and worried about the legal status of Ketum as it is completely legal. After reading this article, we are certain that you have been enlightened with potential benefits of the miracle herb kratom.
Absolutely not, Ketum is 100% natural and 100% real. Kratom is made from the tree of a coffee family native to southeast Asia. Traditionally the leaves were directly chewed; however, today, Ketum leaves are used to make powdered and liquid Ketum extracts.
Yes, pretty much every beneficial drug in the market can be abused. At high doses, Ketum can have several negative side effects. Make sure you measure your Kratom every time you take it to avoid overdoing it.
No, Ketum, even at high doses, has never been reported to take a person’s life. However, avoid mixing it with high doses of other similar psychoactive drugs as this can be fatal.