Biography/Memoir

Kratom users say it’s a miracle drug. The Feds say it’s dangerous.

How did a small nonprofit, with $200 in its bank account just a few years prior, grow to be so influential, so quickly? It may have had the DEA to thank for its growth. AKA’s campaign quickly gained traction when the DEA proposed to schedule the drug. Ash hired lobbyists, scientists, and a legal team. AKA’s success in confronting the DEA led to an infusion of donations in 2016, the group says. Its operating budget is now $1 million, which it uses to pay federal and state lobbyists, other contractors, and six board members, and to support kratom research. 

One of AKA’s supporters is Jack Henningfield, a Johns Hopkins University adjunct professor and addiction specialist with the drug policy consulting group Pinney Associates. After the DEA announcement, AKA hired him to review all the scientific, historical, and social information available on kratom in what is called an “eight-factor analysis.” The FDA performed the same analysis for the DEA, but the agency has not made its results public. Henningfield’s 127-page analysis concluded kratom is not a public health problem, has very low toxicity, and that there have been no confirmed reports of deaths in the US caused by kratom alone. A shorter version was later publishedin the peer-reviewed journal Psychopharmacology. “Banning or restricting access to kratom products would not only deny current kratom consumers of the benefits they obtain from kratom, but would likely serve to create a substantial illicit market to meet those demands,” the report said. The analysis also acknowledged that kratom should be under further regulation, though not placed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act, which would also limit scientists abilities to research it. “I think it is completely legitimate for the FDA to say this is not an approved drug,” Henningfield says. “But to deny that in the real world there are some thousands of people who were on opioids and are now off opioids because of kratom…it’s like looking outside and seeing it’s raining and denying it because your instrument didn’t pick it up.”F

Original Article (Mother Jones):
Kratom Users Say It’s a Miracle Drug. The Feds Say It’s Dangerous.
Artwork Fair Use: Public Domain

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