Was the DEA Right to Ban Kratom from the United States?
What is kratom? And why has the DEA made the decision to ban it? Were they right in doing so? Find out more about it and decide for yourself.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has just made a decision to ban a new type of plant from the United States of America for fear that it might be just as addicting as LSD, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy. You may or may not have heard of it yet, but that plant is called kratom. Starting September 30, 2016, planting, possessing, growing, using, and distributing kratom will be regarded as a felony by the DEA. They claim that it has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” However, a lot of people – 124,000, that is – and even scientists believe that the DEA might have made a wrong decision. Kratom is a fairly new discovery and not much research or tests have been done on it yet, but people are saying that it might just have a significant impact in the medicine community as an effective painkiller and also have other medicinal properties that can be taken advantage of. Since the DEA has officially banned it, there can be no more research done to find out what its benefits may be, however, they deemed it without medicinal use and addicting. So, do you believe that the DEA made the right decision?
What Is Kratom?
Kratom is a tree that grows in mostly tropical countries and native to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo, etc.). Since it has been around in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years, kratom has been used as old-fashioned herbal medicine by their people. However, this plant has just been newly discovered in other parts of the world and the effects have not been medically tested or approved.
The kratom that people use for their personal needs is usually only the leaves of the tree. These leaves can be eaten raw, dried, crushed up, made into tea, powdered, turned into paste, or even made into capsules.
What Does It Do?
Kratom is commonly used in folk medicine at low doses as a stimulant, a sedative in high doses, and as a pain killer alternative. There have been claims that it can also be used as diarrhea medicine, a treatment for arthritis, restless legs syndrome or RLS, and fibromyalgia.
The reason that some scientists oppose the DEAs ban is because there is a big possibility that kratom can actually be an effective painkiller alternative that will be safer to take than opioid medication. There is even a possibility that kratom can actually be used to treat opiate addiction.
As for the DEA, they also have a valid reason why they want to ban kratom from the United States. Kratom has not only been used as herbal medicine in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years, they are also used for recreational purposes. The DEA says that if taken in large amounts, it will not only act as a sedative but also cause psychotic tendencies and psychological addiction.
The CDC says that 42% of cases reported of kratom use between 2010 and 2015 required some treatment of non-threatening symptoms that was the effect of kratom and that about 7% of kratom exposure did classify a life-threatening situation. The DEA has claimed that there have been 15 kratom-related deaths known to them between the years 2014 and 2016.
Kratom has been on the DEA’s watch list of chemicals and drugs that cause some concern. The DEA claims that the level of kratom use and kratom related incidents has gone significantly up since 2010. Law enforcements have apprehended more kratom in the beginning of 2016 than ever before.
The Reasoning against the Ban
The people of Southeast Asia have been using kratom as a medicine for many, many years now. While there is not much scientific proof of its medicinal effects, a lot of people claim that kratom has helped them with various illnesses like diarrhea, arthritis, any kind of pain, and various other sicknesses. Ever since kratom has slowly been spreading to different parts of the world, more and more people have claimed the same thing as the people in Southeast Asia. Kratom can be used as an alternative to opioid painkillers which have addictive qualities to them. Scientists want to study and research the medical benefits kratom has to offer and see if it really is better or worse than giving out addicting opiates to those who need it or if it is actually a cure to opiate addiction.
The Reasoning for the Ban
The DEA claims that kratom has no current medicinal use and has a high potential for drug abuse. Reported cases to the DEA have proven that kratom can have dangerous side effects if not consumed properly. The level of these incidents have increased significantly over time and they fear that if they do not stop it right away, the situation might get harder and harder to control as the situation elevates even more. Kratom is still relatively unknown to the world, even to those in Southeast Asia. This drug has had very little official, medical research done on it so there is no telling what illnesses it might actually cure and what side effects it might possibly have used as a recreational drug.
Do you think the DEA was right to ban kratom from the United States so early? Do you believe that the protestors and scientists were right to request a reconsideration for the ban to study the drug some more? What is your opinion on this drug ban? Do you oppose it? Are you for it? Do you think that the risk is just too big to take and the ban is necessary today? Or do you think that it was made too early with too little information on our hands? With the information presented before you, make your own decision on this situation.
Clopton, J. (n.d.). What Is Kratom? Why Does the DEA Want to Ban It? Retrieved from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20160919/what-is-kratom-dea-ban
Siebert, D., & Student, S. (n.d.). The Kratom User’s Guide. Retrieved from Sage Wisdom: http://www.sagewisdom.org/kratomguide.html