House Appropriations Committee bill HR4502 could direct HHS to Keep Kratom Legal

On July 20, the House Committee on Appropriations released summaries of seven appropriations bills for fiscal year 2022, which runs from October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022. One of the bills, HR4502 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill, includes a report, 117-96, that includes language that would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) “to maintain current Agency policy to not recommend that the substances mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, known as kratom, be permanently controlled in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act”.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives substance scheduling recommendations to the DEA. DEA then announces an intent to schedule the substance, and enacts the scheduling 30 days later. In 2016, FDA recommended that kratom be placed on Schedule 1 of the list of Controlled Substances. The DEA gave its requisite 30 day intent to schedule, but rescinded this intent after a grassroots mass movement of kratom advocates exerted public pressure.

FDA’s recommendation remained in effect until 2018, when HHS Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir sent a letter to DEA rescinding this recommendation. FDA is under the umbrella of HHS, therefore HHS can override its policy decisions.

Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, who discovered the Giroir letter earlier this year, is one of the most powerful kratom advocates in Congress as a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Reports like 117-96 that go along with House appropriations bills are not necessarily legally binding, according to an FAQ by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Do agencies have any discretion in how they use funds from appropriators?
Executive branch agencies must spend funds provided by Congress in the manner directed by Congress in the text of the appropriations bills. Appropriations bills often contain accompanying report language with additional directions, which are not legally binding but are generally followed by agencies.

https://www.crfb.org/papers/appropriations-101#discretion

So there’s no guarantee HHS will go along with the direction, however non-compliance would be politically unwise given the power of the appropriations committee to reconsider HHS funding for the following fiscal year.

The report also mentions kratom as an alternative to opioids. I wouldn’t have included the term “prescription opioids” as illicit heroin and fentanyl overdose rates have skyrocketed since doctors stopped prescribing opioids.

Kratom.—The Committee recognizes that NIDA-funded research has contributed to the continued understanding of the 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 and of research investigating the use of kratom’s constituent compounds for opioid use disorder. The Committee directs NIDA to continue to invest in this important research, especially considering the increase in overdose deaths during the COVID–19 pandemic.”

http://docs.house.gov/…/HMKP-117-AP00-20210715-SD003.pdf

The report also also recommends $3 million in continued kratom research grants from Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

“Kratom.—The Committee directs the Secretary to maintain current Agency policy to not recommend that the substances mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, known as kratom, be permanently controlled in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, either temporarily or permanently, until scientific research can sufficiently support such an action. The Committee encourages AHRQ to continue to fund research on natural products that are used by many to treat pain in place of opioids, including kratom. Given the wide availability and increased use of these substances, it is imperative to know more about potential risks or benefits, and whether 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 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.”

http://docs.house.gov/…/HMKP-117-AP00-20210715-SD003.pdf

Implications for cannabis policy are also part of these seven appropriations bills, according to a detailed article by Kyle Jaeger at Marijuana Moment.

The US House of Representatives will consider HR4502 next week. We will keep you up to date on its progress.

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3 thoughts on “House Appropriations Committee bill HR4502 could direct HHS to Keep Kratom Legal”

  1. I have been responsibly taking kratom for over two years now. I can honestly say that it has saved my life. After years of mental health, anxiety, ADHD and addiction issues I was finally able to get sober and off the hamster wheel of being a guinea pig for psych meds. After a severe injury (2 years ago), then a car accident (6 months after the first injury) I had bulging and herniated discs in both my neck and lower back. This was causing me chronic daily pain, limiting my mobility, causing worse depression, however after years of going through the opiate crisis in my past, I refused any prescription pain medication because I do not want to suffer the physical withdrawals that come along with even a short amount of usage of opiates. After trying kratom and feeling the immediate relief, I began to do my own research, found a reputable vendor who practices cGMP and I have been responsibly taking kratom for years with no negative side affects. I take tolerance breaks, keep my doses low and have never had withdrawals, no respiratory problems, digestion issues or any of the other “potential side affects” that the CDC mentions. This plant saves lives, it has not only saved my own, it has helped countless others get off of ADHD meds, suboxone, methadone, alcohol and kept millions from being a slave to pharmaceuticals. Everyone please do your part to help save this sacred plant, anyone who has been helped by kratom or if you know someone who takes kratom please comment at: https://www.protectkratom.org/whocomments
    You may also contact your state representative for congress. Please don’t let them take our plant medicine from us! Thank you for listening, sending light, love and blessings to you all!

  2. Please keep kratom legal. Without access to kratom, myself and many others will suffer greatly and be forced to go back to doctors for psych meds or pain meds. It really helps pain and mood, it doesn’t cause a high, or tolerance, or loss of effect as time goes on. It just works. It relieves symptoms and helps us function. Please don’t make us, hard working Americans, criminals because we eat a plant.

  3. Kratom saved my life. There’s nothing else to it. Before Kratom I was addicted to multiple substances. Now I have been clean for three years thanks to Kratom. If this becomes illegal not only myself but millions of people that rely on it as a daily medicine will be in big trouble. I use Kratom as a daily medicine and I don’t abuse nor have I had any major negative side effects from it. It is extremely safe and has helped millions!

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