Editor’s note: Breaking views are thoughts from individual members of the editorial board on today’s headlines.
For hundreds of years, people have used kratom leaves or powders for pain relief.
Currently legal in the United States, millions of Americans have safely used kratom for therapeutic and recreational purposes.
In recent years, federal agencies which have no regard for individual liberty like the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration have set their sights on kratom.
In 2016, the DEA announced plans to “place the active materials in the kratom plant into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in order to avoid an imminent hazard to public safety.”
Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is the most restrictive category of the drug scheduling system and includes drugs like heroin and marijuana. Practically, this would prohibit kratom for any use under federal law.
The DEA later backed off of this decision, an odd move if the DEA seriously believed the American people faced “an imminent hazard to public safety” because of kratom. Probably, the DEA doesn’t really care about public safety, it’s more interested in expanding its own powers and keeping the money flowing.
But now, the prospect of kratom prohibition is back. The FDA recently reiterated its own “concerns about kratom’s potential for abuse, addiction, and serious health consequences; including death.”
As evidence, the FDA pointed to 44 deaths involving the use of kratom. But as Reason pointed out, most of those deaths involved the presence of multiple drugs and many involved other health problems, and are hardly evidence of anything other than that bad things have happened to some people who have ingested kratom at some point prior to their deaths.
And as a group of nine scientists argued in a letter to the White House, “the existing science on kratom does not justify its placement into Schedule I of the CSA, nor for kratom to be added to any local or state Controlled Substances list that would effectively remove it from consumer access.”
Proponents of safe access to kratom and individual liberty alike should make clear their opposition to any attempt by the federal government to prohibit or overly restrict access to kratom. People should absolutely be aware of any risks or dangers of kratom use, but prohibition will only punish those with legitimate needs and create a whole new black market with all the risks and downsides black markets have.
Rather than exert the force of government to punish people for ingesting substances unapproved by some government bureaucrats, the federal government should respect the freedom of people to make their own choices and do with their own bodies what they wish.
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