The proposed kratom ban is not yet active in Ohio, but in its final stages before becoming law. The proposal is now subject to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule review, which will conduct another public hearing, according to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy page entitled “Proposed Rules“:
The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy files a rule proposal with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) to begin the legislature’s rule-review process. The process requires the Board to conduct a public hearing 31 to 40 days after the original file date. Generally, 41 to 65 days after the original file date, JCARR schedules the Board to appear before a meeting concerning the rule proposal.
It never hurts to exercise your First Amendment right and contact elected officials with a polite message opposing a ban, even if it isn’t during a “comment period”. Rude messages however, do hurt.
I used the contact form linked above to ask JCARR when the public hearing on the proposed kratom ban will take place. I got this response:
At this time, the rule has not been filed with JCARR. The public hearing notice will be published on the Board’s website and the Register of Ohio website and the JCARR hearing notice will be posted on both the JCARR and Register of Ohio website.
Public and Policy Affairs Liaison
77 South High Street, 17th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215
T: (614) 502.7161 | C: (614) 869.6934 | F: (614) 752.4836
So that’s the status as of this week.
We’ve been covering the kratom situation in Ohio since October, when the Ohio Board of Pharmacy recommended the plant be banned. A ban, of course, will turn law-abiding Ohioans like Calista, who we interviewed for Kratom Stories, into criminals for no justifiable reason.
The proposed rule was then was subject to Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative, led by the Lieutenant Governor. A public comment period was allowed, ending April 30th. A month later, on May 31st, CSI decided to let the proposed ban go through.
The Common Sense Initiative reasoning for refusing to block the proposed ban surprisingly lacked in common sense. In a memo posted May 31st to Ali Simon (who responded to my inquiry), CSI’s Regulatory Policy Advocate Ethan Wittkorn laid out the reasons a ban proposal should go forth.
There was significant feedback during the CSI public comment period. The Ohio Chapter of The American Academy of Pediatrics submitted a letter of support. From opponents to the classification, there were anecdotal remarks about kratom’s pain treatment benefits and suggestions that kratom should be regulated and allowed in an unadulterated form, rather than completely prohibited. Several commenters pointed out the possibility of using kratom to treat opioid addiction or abuse, or the concern that the proposed rule would prevent research into kratom’s potential benefits. There were also comments citing a negative business impact on retailers that currently sell kratom.
The Board did not adopt any changes due to the comments received, citing the lack of documented medical evidence to support the use of kratom to treat opioid dependence, as well as several case studies in which kratom was shown to have a negative effect on health. The Board clarified that the proposed classification of kratom would not prohibit research on the substance and that any potential adverse business impact is superseded by the public health risk that kratom poses.https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/d37116b5-98c9-4bba-857d-75b0a0a9ddab/CSI+REC+Pharmacy+Board+05-31-19.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CVID=mIfHyDT&CVID=mIfHyDT
This memo said absolutely nothing about the lack of evidence that banning substances helps public health at all. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy did not have to explain this. The foregone conclusion is that we should make a significant portion of the population of Ohio criminals because we don’t understand a plant that’s helping them.
Neither was the Board of Pharmacy required to explain WHY “the proposed classification of kratom would not prohibit research”. That’s not what leading kratom researchers say.
And when the Board is considering thousands of anecdotes and peer reviewed papers of support vs. a few case studies of negative impact (probably in those famous cases where the deceased had fentanyl or bullets in their system) citing a “lack of medical evidence”, the Board of Pharmacy is inadvertently admitting that not enough research exists to declare kratom “a public health risk”.
Ohio has recently had extreme rates of opioid overdose deaths, neonatal abstinence syndrome, and HIV contracted from needles. Many kratom consumers in Ohio are likely former opioid addicts.
@OhioJCARR will be harming these people if it decides to ban kratom.
But there is still time.
Mac Haddow of the American Kratom Association recently posted this legislative update concerning Ohio.
OHIO UPDATE: … AKA has scheduled additional meetings with key Ohio legislators encouraging them to file and support the KCPA [Kratom Consumer Protection Act]
AKA is very optimistic that we will have a sponsor in the Ohio House of Representatives will agree to file the KCPA bill soon. In the interim, we are awaiting word on the opportunity for public comments on this regulatory process in Ohio, particularly with legislators who will serve on the Review Committee. Most important, we look forward having a member of the Legislature file the KCPA to provide real protections for kratom consumers.
Some are on Twitter as well:
As always when contacting government officials, please be as polite as possible. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has already used tone and language policing as an excuse not to listen to us on this issue. Rudeness is just as good as arming the opposition.