Advocates for the natural pain reliever Kratom have rallied together to produce tens of thousands of people to submit comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that will help inform the U.S. position on how the substance should be classified under international law. In October, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Exper Committee on Drug Dependence will discuss whether to recommend kratom to be globally scheduled as an illicit drug. While the FDA opened a public comment period for input that was set to end on August 9, the American Kratom Association (AKA) successfully sued for an extension that ended this week. With those extra weeks for input, AKA’s online activist portal managed to get more than 63,000 people to share their experiences, scientific literature, and recommendations encouraging the U.S. to oppose an international ban.
FDA itself has logged about 26,000 comments that were directly sent in through the federal government’s submission site. Advocates have been skeptical about FDA’s intent with an upcoming committee meeting, with some suspecting that it initially limited the comment period window to minimize activists’ ability to push back against a ban. Mac Haddow, senior fellow on public policy at the American Kratom Association, said,” The FDA is attacking the right of every American to make their own decisions about their health and well-being, and we have to send a strong message to the WHO to stand up against the unfair treatment of the FDA for any natural product, including kratom.” Kratom has been classified as a natural painkiller that works as a safer alternative to prescription opioids, but the U.S. agency doesn’t quite see it that way. The FDA wrote in a notice on the comment period last month, “Kratom is abused for its ability to produce opioid-like effects.” It may be a while before we see it sold in pill bottles.
The notice continues, “Kratom is available in several different forms to include dried/crushed leaves, powder, capsules, tablets, liquids, and gum/resin. Kratom is an increasingly popular drug of abuse and readily available on the recreational drug market in the United States.” Currently, kratom is not scheduled under the federal Controlled Substances Act or under international drug treaties to which the U.S. is a party. But few advocates suspect that since the FDA has been unable so far to impose a ban on kratom domestically, it may use the WHO convention as an opportunity to get prohibition enacted globally; a move that the country would be compelled to comply with. Haddow told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview on August 26, that the group has heard from WHO representatives who’ve said the deadline for member nations to comment is September 24, so AKA is still imploring people to use its online portal to weigh in even though that the FDA closed its extended comment period on Tuesday, August 24. It’s great to see advocacy groups such as the American Kratom Association, that aim to fight against negative stigmas or unjust laws against holistic methods of healing.