Slowly but surely, government is responding to the relentless advocacy of the kratom community and the American Kratom Association. In addition to the state governments of Georgia, Utah, and Arizona (that recently decided to regulate rather than ban kratom), the House of Representatives and the National Institutes on Drug Abuse are listening to our calls to #followthescience and #keepkratomlegal.
On May 3rd, the House Appropriations committee released a report for fiscal year 2020. The report is a series of recommendations and requests from the committee to the Departments of Labor, Education, and where we’re concerned: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), on how our tax dollars should be spent.
HHS is part of the executive branch of the US government, meaning the HHS Secretary (currently Alex M. Azar II, who was formerly employed as — surprise!– a lobbyist for one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Eli Lilly) is appointed by the President of the United States as part of his cabinet. Under HHS there are several agencies, including those most closely affecting the kratom community:
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — Scott Gottlieb is the recently resigned commissioner and former executive/sponsored by Tolero Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi Sankyo Inc, and GlaxoSmithKlein
- National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ARHQ)
The House Committee on Appropriation report for fiscal year 2020 requests:
1. The NIH should expand kratom research:
Kratom.—The Committee requests that NIH expand research on all health impacts of kratom, including its constituent compounds, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine. The Committee is aware of the potential promising results of kratom for acute and chronic pain patients who seek safer alternatives to sometimes dangerously addictive and potentially deadly prescription opioids.
Notice the Committee neither mentioned “nearly 100 deaths associated with kratom”, nor did they pick one man out of a thousand with an addictive personality to focus on, like KMOV out of Missouri did. They are following the science, and requesting funding for more.
2. AHRQ should spend $3 million towards research on non-opioid pain relief alternatives including kratom and CBD:
Kratom.—The Committee notes that little research has been done to date on natural products that are used by many to treat pain in place of opioids. These natural plants and substances include kratom and cannabidiol (CBD). Given the wide availability and increased use of these substances, it is imperative to know more about potential risks or benefits, and whether or not they can have a role in finding new and effective non-opioid methods to treat pain. The Committee recommends an additional $3,000,000 for this research and directs AHRQ [Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality] to make center-based grants to address research which will lead to clinical trials in geographic regions which are among the hardest hit by the opioid crisis.
Unfortunately one of the hardest hit geographic locations of the opioid crisis is the state of Ohio, whose short-sighted leadership in the Ohio Board of Pharmacy is seeking to ban kratom and CBD.
This is on top of the fact that legitimate pain patients are desperate for relief. Yet the federal government is penalizing doctors for providing that relief because of the drug pedaling pharmaceutical companies who caused the addiction crisis in the first place. So their answer is to leave countless Americans to suffer, instead of locking up their pharma executive campaign donors.
But let’s be grateful for this sanity needle in an insane haystack of government policy…
3. NIDA should report on barriers to research that occur when a substance is classified as Schedule 1:
Barriers to Research.—The Committee is concerned that restrictions associated with Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act effectively limit the amount and type of research that can be conducted on certain Schedule I drugs, especially marijuana or its component chemicals and new synthetic drugs and analogs. At a time when we need as much information as possible about these drugs to find antidotes for their harmful effects, we should be lowering regulatory and other barriers to conducting this research. The Committee directs NIDA to provide a short report on the barriers to research that result from the classification of drugs and compounds as Schedule I substances.
We previously covered the effects of Schedule 1 here at Kratom Science with our post “Banning Drugs is Anti-Science, Anti-Health, and Anti-Social“.
Hopefully this House recommendation will be a baby step in the direction of doing away with the concept of Schedule 1 altogether.
The opposite of banning drugs is not having meth and heroin available over the counter at every gas station and drugstore. It’s treating addiction for what it is – a problem in the mind of the addict – instead of treating substances like they are evil potions concocted in cauldrons by witches.
We need to get out of the dark ages with this nonsensical and stupid War on Drugs, and start treating addiction as a medical issue, and stop acting like Schedule 1 substances or substances the pharmaceutical companies want to ban like kratom are more evil than sugar, caffeine, or alcohol.
Top US Kratom Researchers Awarded $3.4 million Grant from NIDA
The University of Florida College of Pharmacy has been awarded a $3.4 million grant from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse. These are the most prominent kratom researchers in the United States. Chris McCurdy and Bonnie Avery, who sadly passed away in March, have been the at the forefront of studying kratom for its potential therapeutic and other medicinal uses.
This is in addition to an NIDA grant the college received in December for $3.5 million to study kratom.
Grants such as these from public institutions, instead of private pharmaceutical companies, will hopefully insure that kratom remain available from our favorite distributors, rather than restricted and monopolized by a giant pharmaceutical company with help from their lobbyists who have infiltrated our FDA.
Whoever is president in 2021, it would be helpful if the kratom community put pressure on him or her to appoint scientists, rather than big pharma businessmen or lobbyists, as head of HHS and the FDA.