Kratom is found in an evergreen tree that is abundantly present in the forests of Southeast Asia. It is also known as MitragynaSpeciosa. The leaves of this tree are used in pain medication in Thailand, Malaysia, and nearby countries from ancient times.
The extracts from this tree are used as an analgesic. It has opioid-like properties that have been used in the treatment of drug addiction recovery and chronic pain medication.
Interestingly, it has been used as part of culinary in Thailand. Guests are invited into houses with the mixture of kratom and tea. Its medicinal properties have caught wind of united states, and the drug has become famous in the market.
Use of kratom has improved the lives of millions of Americans who are suffering from cancer pain. Medical practitioners are prescribing it for its stimulant-like properties. It is useful in reducing depression and improving the mood of people.
However, kratom is in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. It has become a victim of the ongoing opioid crisis.
There has been an increase in the consumption of prescribed opioids by patients from 1990s.
This is due to the numerous factors such as aggressive advertising by pharmaceutical companies that opiates are not addictive and the favoritism by medicinal professionals on opioids.
This has resulted in the widespread misuse of opioids leading to a chronic drug overdose in various parts of the United States.
In 2015 alone, more than 30,000 Americans have fallen victim to a drug overdose. Drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, and other prescription drugs have made life hell for nearly 2 million Americans. This has created a public health care crisis radically changing the public’s opinion on the legal use of opioid drugs.
The devastating effects of the opioid crisis include the rising incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome and chronic overuse of opioids during pregnancy. Other side effects include the spread of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV through the use of contaminated needles.
In 2016, the opioid crisis has accounted for 42,000 deaths showing no symptoms of stopping. This has led to an increase of 40% share of prescription opioids in drug overdose deaths. The social, cultural and the moral impact of this opioid crisis is changing the public support on street drug alternatives.
Various states have declared a state of emergency in tackling this crisis. The high nature of this problem has kept FDA and other government agencies on their toes.
Misinterpretation of Kratom
In recent times, there have been drug overdose deaths that are mistakenly attributed to kratom. It is found that the victims have taken kratom along with other prescription drugs.
However, the data does not point to kratom abuse. FDA, in the thick of the opioid crisis, has proposed for classifying kratom as a scheduled I and IV drugs. This move is made without any qualitative analysis of the data.
As a result, there has been a massive uproar from the kratom community to prevent kratom ban. The situation has been aggravated by the recent salmonella crisis in which contamination of kratom with salmonella might result in deaths due to respiration suppression.
There are also kratom products of different manufacturers found with severe poisoning. Because of anecdotal evidence, FDA and DEA have proceeded to ban kratom from the market.
However, Masses have shown their support for the substance as it has been in use for a long time in pain medication and drug addiction recovery.
Tennessee is one of those states in which the kratom community have organized a massive rally and petitioned for legalizing kratom use.
They have advocated that patients need to have more control over their health care. They should be able to have alternatives whey doctors fail them. Kratom is a natural herb that protects them from misery.
Legality of Kratom In Tennessee
In Tennessee, kratom is legal, and the packing must adhere to a labeling requirement.
It means that the manufacturer should disclose the information about the ingredients of the product. There should be a minimum warning of “do not use if you are pregnant or nursing”.
It is illegal to use kratom before 21 years of age. Consult your healthcare professional before use. Do not combine with alcohol or medication. Consult a doctor before its usage if you have any heart disease, liver disorder, high blood pressure, or medical condition or take medication’.
This law has revised the various provisions regarding the scheduling of controlled substances and their analog and derivatives. The bill has included an updated list of scheduled drugs in Schedule I-V.
It authorizes sentence reduction credits for prisoners who complete the intensive substance use disorder treatment program.
The law prohibits the artificial synthesis of mitragynine and hydroxymitragynine a key component in kratom leaves. Possession of natural kratom leaves does not attract any penalty or criminal prosecution in Tennessee.
The Tennessee attorney general’s office has given a public legal opinion in which they clarified the government’s state on kratom. He explained that the 2013 version of the law had outlawed other drugs. The intent of the law is not to outlaw natural kratom but only synthesized mitragynine.
Former 2nd District Representative Tony Shipley of Kingsport stated that he is not supporting or outlawing kratom. He endorsed the thorough study of the pharmacological effects of kratom instead of an outright ban. He considered this to the middle ground taken by the government with regards to the ongoing crisis.
Tony Farmer, a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, stated that it is an A demeanor and the government is not going to watch kratom as carefully as other drugs, and it is not under their radar.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has also said that they have been testing various forms of kratom in powdered form, in liquid form etc. Online stores have kratom beverage drinks much similar to energy drinks. The retail outlets do not have kratom.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has said they have taken kratom samples to look for the vital ingredient of concern and determine its legality. They have also clarified that the intent of the lab test is not to find out whether the kratom samples are natural or synthetic.
The kratom advocates show evidence that kratom is not harmful and agree that more scientific research on the substance will be beneficial to all.
A combined effort in educating representatives results in kratom remaining legal in Tennessee. This will stay the case, provided companies follow FDA guidelines and regulations. Kratom supporters have visited a lot of house representatives and senators personally.
They were able to gain clarity from them about the legal status of kratom. The lawmakers have agreed that the use of natural kratom is legitimate in the Tennessee state.
Check out the legality of Kratom in Tennessee in detail by clicking here.
Support for Kratom
Botanical Education Alliance has taken a proactive approach to educating the masses about kratom use. Its recent milestones include the release of the first-of-a-kind educational book on kratom “Kratom: A Product of Use, Not a Product of Abuse.”
It has sent the copy of the books to over 100 senators, local legislators, house representatives and media personalities/outlets.
They have provided an opportunity for lawmakers to understand the benefits of kratom and the necessity to keep it a legal drug.
BEA has also pushed for the unified GMP regulations for the industry. They have urged lawmakers to focus on creating quality standards for kratom so that customers get the right value for their money.
Safe kratom is the only way forward to repair the tarnished reputation of the drug. Customers should request for safe kratom from local vendors and manufacturers should step up their quality control process so that contamination does not take place.
Kratom as a community and as an industry can survive only when kratom is supported as a legal dietary supplement, and for that high-quality manufacturing is an essential component.
More recently, BEA has been able to secure “Dear Colleague” letter from congressmen Brat and Polis with a total of 17 signatures supporting the use of kratom. This letter has been submitted to FDA.
This is a significant achievement as it has enabled the people from the grassroots level to show their voice and message. It also shows that government is willing to listen to the people when they are active.
Kratom support associations such as BEA (Botanical Education Alliance) and AKA (American kratom association) had co-ordinate and campaigned strategically in various states including Tennessee, Georgia, and Kansas.
Their efforts have been paid off as kratom is now legal in both Georgia and Tennessee. Due to their superior effects and unrelenting persistence, they have achieved this feat.
Actions Taken By The Government
It is a well-known fact that kratom has medicinal properties and its use has been known for centuries. It is due to the recent confusion and incorrect information spread by media that kratom has attracted a bad reputation.
Fortunately, kratom supporters have gathered support and shown strength for the plant. Scientists, academics, and kratom manufacturers have conducted international summits to understand the current law scenario and to create awareness about the product.
They have highlighted the need for research to study the effects of kratom thoroughly. There have been discussions about the current challenges and way forward in legalizing kratom.
All of them have acknowledged that this is only the beginning and legalizing kratom use will need extended support from the community. Also, they have admitted that collaboration with different agencies can speed up the process and kratom’s benefits can be realized.
Medical professionals have agreed that kratom is essential for the treatment of millions of drug recovery patients in America. The government should have a well thought out plan to regulate the distribution of kratom so that it does not stifle the current supply.
Also, care should be taken to ensure that the substance shouldn’t be abused on a large scale. It is necessary to have a combination of awareness programs and campaigns to educate people about the proper use of kratom and acceptable dosing levels.
Stakeholders such as patients, scientists, government, public health care professionals are required to come together to redeem kratom’s reputation as an effective addiction antidote and pain reliever.
U.S Department of Health and Human services have prioritized the following action points to prevent another opioid crisis in future.
- Enabling better access to the prevention, treatment and recovery support services available to individuals and help them to recover from opioid addiction.
- Increasing the availability of overdose-reversing drugs and streamlining distribution in local markets thereby increasing access to the high-risk areas.
- Improving the accuracy and quality of public health data reporting and collection.
- Allocate funds for cutting-edge research in pain medication and drug addiction. Increasing government involvement in the identification of new treatments, medicines, and effective public health interventions thereby reducing opioid-related harms.
- Creating market needs for advanced innovations in pain management and increase access to high-quality pain care thus aiming to lessen the burden of chronic pain in families and society as a whole.
Kratom not being banned in Tennessee is a victory for kratom supporters. The law has allowed the possession of kratom leaves in its natural botanical form. The persons possessing kratom in this form does not have the risk of criminal prosecution.
This victory has been the result of the active campaigns of the kratom advocates. They have petitioned to the government and lawmakers about the importance of kratom to the balance in the society.
They have pointed out how many Americans are dependent on kratom for a healthy life. Fortunately, their appeal has been heard, and the lawmakers have allowed the use of kratom in its natural form.
However, the synthetic form of kratom in Tennessee is not allowed to use. So, the battle is half won. It is necessary for kratom supporters to rally around making the kratom pills, capsules, etc. legal as they are readily available in the market for consumption.
The Secretary of State has assigned the Public Chapter Number 1040 on 23rd May 2018 with updated amendments.
You can check the details of the amendment here.