DEA’s Proposed Ban on Kratom Harms Those They Claim to Protect


As the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) goes about its deliberate, unemotional process of turning the herb kratom into an outlawed substance, it is worthwhile to think about those who will suffer as a result of having one more aspect of their freedom removed.


An estimated 5.5 million Americans use kratom. We can only guess that half or more of this number use it as an alternative to various forms of synthetic pharmaceutical medicines. With the limitations the DEA has placed on doctors prescribing opioids, one might think that there would be some appreciation that Americans have found a safer, herbal helper for overcoming chronic pain and opioid dependency — a problem largely created by the pharmaceutical industry’s heavy marketing of opioids as minimally addictive pain relief in the 1990s.


And yet, the DEA has consistently portrayed kratom as a recreational drug, though it is hard to imagine a substance that is so unpleasant-tasting and inconvenient as kratom being as popular as this plant material is. 


If kratom is to be considered a recreational drug, then perhaps we should view its sister herb coffee as a recreational drug, too.


One thing the DEA doesn’t seem to consider is that — although they proclaim that kratom has “no recognized medicinal uses”, many (most?) of those who consume it on a regular basis do so because, for them, it serves a medicinal purpose for them.


Most kratom consumers have tried the alternatives of modern medicines and found the side-effects intolerable, debilitating, and often deadly if one doctor prescribes a drug that shouldn’t be taken at the same time another drug that another doctor prescribes is taken.


In a random conversation as I was preparing this article, I mentioned opioid medications, and the woman I was buying my farm-fresh eggs from told me that one of her family members had died from an accidental overdose of properly prescribed opioid painkillers. Where is the DEA’s concern over those dangerous drugs?


The DEA evidently accepts deaths and disabling conditions caused by pharmaceuticals because the manufacturers have done extensive research (though much of it may be fraudulent ) and their paperwork appears to be in order. 


You might say that, “Big Pharma has paid to play and kratom hasn’t, though considerable research exists and long historical use which vouch for kratom’s safety and medical benefits, although these have not been officially recognized by the FDA or DEA.”


And yet, the DEA goes to great lengths to accuse kratom of causing a few deaths — almost all of which occur in multidrug users who were taking substances known to cause death. Honest professional toxicologists have looked at these deaths and pointed out that in none of the cases was kratom found to be the actual cause of death.


But, if the DEA says so, to some official minds, it must be true. Federal rules require a suspension of disbelief, apparently.


Here, in the Real World, Real People will be hurt by an arbitrary ban on kratom and its key alkaloids, Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.


The availability of opioid drugs, which have been the mainstay of the medical treatment for pain over the past 20+ years, has been drastically reduced — even to those who obviously have medically recognized painful conditions. This sudden cutback has caused many chronic pain sufferers to look for alternatives, which led many to kratom, where — by most reports — they found a better quality of relief without the disabling lethargy, constipation, and brain fog commonly caused by opioids.


Ah,but nevermind that the pain patient prefers this herb over all the medications they’re tried! The DEA knows best what’s good for you — or so we are expected to believe!


How the DEA’s intent to Criminalize Kratom Will Harm Innocent Consumers


The story of Brian Butts reveals the fallacy of the DEA’s argument, which has insisted that kratom and its alkaloids are a substance of abuse that millions  are taking because it offers a “legal high” or is in some way as strong or stronger than heroin, morphine and the rest of the opioid family. The truth is quite different.


Brian was born with a recognized, painful medical condition — a birth defect that surgery can’t fix and physical therapy can’t remedy. He will always need something to help with the pain. He could have legally-prescribed oxycodone, but he prefers kratom’s unique ability to remove pain without any noticeable mental or physical side-effects. (Please read his brief testimonial and view the pictures of his painful natural deformity in the link above.)


The truth is very different than the DEA’s “spin” which is used to demean this useful and uniquely different herb.


This recent study from Columbia University puts the lie to the DEA portrayal that kratom is a substance of abuse that has no medical benefit.


The truth, which the DEA and FDA seem to be trying so hard to disguise, is that millions of kratom consumers simply prefer the quality of relief that kratom, a very complex and balanced mixture of alkaloids, delivers over expensive and ultimately debilitating pharmaceutical painkillers derived from the poppy plant.


Objective observers have tried kratom and found nothing like a “high” in the herb. See the link to Huffington Post article below.


Kratom has proven itself a threat to the continued profits of the pharmaceutical industry and also the alcohol industry. This is the “crime” that kratom represents — the crime of revealing that Nature has provided us with a superior product that consumers report replaces a laundry list of synthetic and overpriced drugs.


Why shouldn’t we have the freedom to choose what works best for us? With more than 100,000 of us dying each year as a result of taking pharmaceutical, FDA-approved drugs in U.S. hospitals under controlled conditions, it would seem that we take a far greater risk with pharmaceuticals than we do with kratom.


With most kratom vendors making no medical claims for their product, as dictated by FDA regulations, why shouldn’t Brian Butts and millions of others be able to obtain the pain relief that works best for them — from Nature?


Who or what is the DEA protecting? It doesn’t seem to be the public’s safety or quality of life. 


Millions of Americans will be harmed if the DEA is allowed by Congress to proceed with its egregious and unprecedented scheduling of kratom and its alkaloids on or about October 1st, 2016.


Please contact the American Kratom Association to learn how you can help preserve your access to this traditional medicinal plant.


Author Paul Kemp has been covering the kratom story for several years. He believes herbs, real food, and exercise are the true sources of health.


Contact the American Kratom Association to learn how you can help preserve the legality and access to this unique botanical.


See this Huffington Post article where the author tested kratom, looking for the “high” the DEAclaims is there — and his comical experience


Paul Kemp
I am a writer with a passion for freedom within a libertarian philosophy. I claim my rights and I accept personal responsibility for the consequences. I have watched the same mistakes being made time after time in our country and I hope to point these errors out and hopefully help to change a few of them. We have, as a society, turned too much control over our lives and diet to self-proclaimed experts, who have an agenda that is not in our best interest. To regain our health and freedom, we need to give these "experts" the boot and become knowledgeable about the crucial details of our own lives.

  • Dee

    Great article!! Thank you for an objective look at Kratom and at those of us who use it. The media campaign has thrown Kratom under the bus without any research. Look beyond what the DEA has said and you will see the many benefits Kratom offers with little to no side effects. Add the sheer number of responsible adults who have found relief and it is easy to see why Kratom is a threat to the Medical Community. This is not a health issue, it is a money issue and one more sign that those who head Big Pharma and the Insurance companies do not care about us as much as they do profits and their bottom line.

  • Dee

    Great article, thank you for an honest, unbiased look at Kratom, it’s many benefits and those who choose to use it. This ban is an overreach of government that will hurt more people than the few they are supposedly “trying to save.” No deaths have been attributed to Kratom, nor have there been any OD’s because of it. Every testimonial I have seen has been positive and encouraging. No wonder Big Pharma feels threatened.

    • Kratom calls into question the whole philosophical foundation of modern medicine, which doesn’t inform us correctly how to stay healthy, but instead prefers to maximize their profits by treating only symptoms with synthetic, patented drugs to own and profit from our illnesses. We have forgotten that some plants address our symptoms better than the synthetic pharmaceuticals that took plants place about 100 years ago. For our sake, our Congress needs to open up the playing field of medicine to herbs like kratom that have a long history of safe use. It is obvious that watchdog agencies like the DEA are not serving the people’s interests by spreading factually incorrect info about kratom’s effects, saying it causes respiratory depression and hallucinations, which no scientific review or human experience confirms. It was my pleasure to tell this important story.

  • Straylight Terabyte

    This is outrageous (and inhuman) that the DEA is trying to do this. Thank you for drawing attention to this very important issue!

  • Brian Butts

    Thank you, Paul. This is a great piece and I am honored that you decided to share my story.
    Kratom On, Friends!!
    #iamkratom #kratomsaveslives

    • It was a pleasure to write this, Brian. Bureaucracies, like the DEA, have taken on a heartless life of their own with an agenda that is not driven by the science OR human compassion or common sense. Your story was an oportunity to get this point across that — if they can’t accomplish their mission of reducing the availability of heroin and synthetics, but waste their time attacking helpful plants, why is the DEA still in existence?

  • Robert Ricker

    The DEA and the FDA are in bed with big Pharma who pays off the politicians that fund these organizations.
    To me it has been clear for quite a while that our government puts the needs of those who pay off their campaigns and by their votes will do anything to keep Rich Elite one-percenters happy regardless of the damage it does to the average American citizen. Our system is broken and it needs a major overhaul. We must all stand up and fight for what is right and just and good.

    • All the evidence does seem to point in that direction. The thing is, I can’t prove that, so I don’t talk about it. All the evidence is “circumstantial”, so why bother to speculate? I am more interested in changing this tacit corruption and boycotting of the products that are making us sick. Kratom is the key to removing much of the pharma industry’s wealth and power, so we must keep kratom legal!

  • Melanie Victor

    I just wanted to say thank you for this article, and thank you for bringing awareness to this injustice. The DEA cannot be allowed to do this. It would be an act of cruelty.