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There is some serious unrest in the kratom community. A Louisiana lawmaker, Senator, A.G. Crowe of district R-Pearl River, is proposing a kratom ban. On the WWLTV channel , see http://www.wwltv.com/news/northshore/Northshore-Lawmakers-Seeks-To-Ban-Herbal-Remedy-139325763.html , the senator explains his reasons.
Poor knowledge and misunderstandings about the herb and the users are once more at the base of another crusade against a perfectly normal herb. Time for some public answers. The KA is preparing an open letter, which is included below and a petition is made available , please do sign the D0-not-ban-kratom petition and forward this to your friends.
The following letter is send to the Sentators office and will be published by press release in the comming days.
We are shocked to have learned of the proposal of Senator A.G. Crowe to pre-file a bill that would add Kratom to the list of controlled dangerous substances. This proposal seems to be based on some common misunderstandings which we would like to draw your attention to before this gets out of hand.
Kratom is, just as many other herbs, not a dangerous substance nor is it a narcotic. The mild effects it can offer can be described as analgesic, relaxing and energizing or uplifting, just like a good cup of tea or coffee. Just like coffee and tea, it has been traditionally used for thousands of years, during which time there have been no real reports of any untoward effects from this herb at all. Users often suggest that it is a very mild and safe alternative for painkillers which are often harmful and addictive, and not surprisingly, it has indeed been often used as such for a thousands of years long track record of trouble-free success.
The assertion that Kratom is being somehow abused is entirely erroneous and is based on a misconception. Kratom is not at all popular with minors (who prefer already illegal and much less subtle substances) and the users are in fact mainly middle-aged and well-educated folks who tend to use it as a gentle but beneficial assist to deal with depression, anxiety, pain, addiction or other ailments, which is similar to its traditional usage over literally thousands of years.
A selection of personal experiences of the users can be found here, http://kratomassociation.org/publications/kratom-testimonials. If you would take a bit of time to browse through these experiences you will notice that the users of Kratom are anything but thrill-seeking teenagers. This natural herbal leaf material is really not something that is regarded as "cool," like the bath salts or the other examples you have mentioned as being somehow comparable to Kratom.
We do, however, understand the Senator's concerns, as sellers should indeed never target youngsters, however when and if they have attempted to, young people really have no interest in Kratom anyway. In fact, the few sellers who have attempted such poor marketing methods have already stopped attempting to sell Kratom due to lack of sales, or are or will soon be in the process of stopping for the same reason. The minority of sellers who may temporarily attempt to sell Kratom as some sort of "legal high" do not succeed because in reality Kratom is far too subtle and gentle of an herb to appease their target market.
In 2007, a bill was proposed in Massachusetts that seeked to outlaw Salvia divinorum and also, at first, in a misunderstanding, included Kratom as well.
The bill to ban Salvia (a hallucinogenic substance completely different from Kratom) moved forward, however, Kratom was notably removed from the bill. According to Rep. Vinny DeMacedo, R-Plymouth: "There was not a lot of support for it.. [Kratom was] removed so we could move the Salvia piece forward."
Notably, several doctors and other learned persons specifically protested the wrongful attempted inclusion of Kratom in the bill.
It is fortunate that the Representatives proposing the bill decided it wasn't worth criminalizing Kratom. It is widely recognized as a legitimate herbal remedy and was not causing any problems as evidenced by law enforcement and/or poison control center reports so it would be pointless to outlaw it. It would have been like trying to criminalize Chamomile, Kava, Valerian, or any number of other benign herbs.
Based on all of the available evidence, we feel very strongly that a ban of this benign plant is not the correct solution. A ban can quickly become counterproductive, since it would surely attract additional attention to the plant as people seek what they "can't have" and become convinced that if it is to be banned, then it must be desirable and/or effective for their needs. Kratom would become the "forbidden fruit" and an enormous amount of awareness and interest in obtaining this currently relatively obscure herb would quickly develop.
In addition, it cannot be ignored that the fact is that many folks (the minority who are aware of the herb without a ban in place to force them to be aware of and seek out the herb) are truly helped by use of this herb, from former alcoholics and opiate addicts to people suffering from chronic pain who are rightfully afraid to use the potentially harmful and addictive pain medications which cause such obvious problems in modern society. It surely cannot be the Senator's intention to intentionally take away a useful remedy from these people, especially those that need it the most. A remedy that has no law enforcement reports, no poison control center reports, and really no evidence at all of being harmful in any way, shape, or form. A remedy that has, as a matter of fact, saved quite a few people from the usage/abuse of harmful and addictive prescribed pharmaceutical narcotics which DO have a very evident track record of causing problems in our society.
Besides this, regardless of the thousands of years traditional usage in Asia, research on this herb and its beneficial properties has only recently started in the Western world. We already know, due to thousands of years of traditional use that the herb is not harmful. A possible ban would close the door for further important research on an herb which all existing evidence shows to be not only not a problem, but further shows to be a very good natural alternative for pain management and overcoming addiction to other substances that are well documented to be harmful.
We seriously hope that the Senator will reconsider and withdraw his initial notion to try to be the first and only state to ban and criminalize the use of Kratom. The great state of Louisiana should certainly not be an example of reactionary banning of an herb which all existing evidence shows to be a harmless and, in fact, harm-reducing (with it's anti-addiction properties) herb.