Kratom Proponents Present 120,000-Signature Petition To White House To Stop DEA Rush To Ban Coffee-Like Herb In U.S., Seek Opportunity To Comment

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Organizers of a march and rally in Lafayette Park here on September 13, 2016, presented the Obama White House with a “We The People” petition signed by 120,000 Americans opposed to a rushed and unjustified effort by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to effectively ban as early as October 1, 2016 a coffee-like natural herb that has been used safely for hundreds of years. Organizers of the protest event want the DEA to allow for a full and open comment period from medical experts and the public.

Under the ill-considered DEA action, the herb kratom would be placed on an emergencykratom basis in the same drug classification as heroin and LSD, even though (1) there is no documented evidence of a kratom “public health threat” and (2) hundreds of thousands of Americans make use of the herb with no ill effect.  For more information about kratom, see: http://bit.ly/kratomfacts. The latest on the health and science of kratom are https://www.botanical-education.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Kratom-Fact-Sheet.pdf.

Hundreds attended the pro-kratom march from the White House to nearby Lafayette Park. Organizers noted that the DEA has failed to meet the test for an emergency classification of kratom and must, therefore, open up the reclassification effort with a full opportunity for public comment. Other nations, including Canada, place no restrictions on kratom use and medical research now underway (including here in the US) is actually exploring the possible benefits of the herb used in Asia for five centuries.

Travis Lowin director, Botanical Education Alliance (previously the Botanical Legal Defense), said: “We must unite and set aside our differences whatever they may be and find the courage within ourselves to bring the truth about Kratom to the regulators. We cannot let the DEA get away with scheduling an herb that millions of Americans use safely to support their overall health and wellbeing. The DEA has failed Americans in its efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and targeting Kratom will make the situation worse. Our organization and Americans nationwide are only demanding that we receive due process and sensible regulation. Veterans, seniors, and other kratom customers in the US should not have to pay the price for the DEA failing to play by the rules.”

Susan Ash, director, American Kratom Association, said: “There is no reason why hundreds of thousands of Americans who purchase kratom should be turned into criminals in three weeks. There is no kratom public health crisis today. There is no basis for a federal ban on kratom. If the DEA has nothing to fear from the facts than it should allow for an open public comment period in which the public and medical experts can weigh in. Those of us who support kratom have no fear of such an open process, we welcome it.”

Andrew Turner, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom who was injured in a subsequent military deployment, Hyattsville, MD, said: “I am a veteran. I deal with combat related disabilities and pretty severe chronic pain. A few years ago, I learned about the plant kratom. It turns out that by using a little bit every morning, I was able stop using opiates that were prescribed to me by my doctors. I’ve stopped using them. Unfortunately, that was before I had to be let go from a federal job because I couldn’t manage my pain and anxiety with prescription drugs. Now I am a business owner and I am thriving. I should not have to face losing kratom.”

Joe Volpe, a retired school teacher who used kratom to replace prescription pain killers, Philadelphia, PA, said: “We need to work together to keep kratom available. This is the time for consumers to come together. From women dealing with endometriosis, men and women suffering from fibromyalgia, veterans afflicted with PTSD, and more, the community must step up now and make a difference.”

Under fire for failing to make headway in the opioid epidemic, the DEA is now seeking to distract the public and lawmakers by focusing unwarranted negative attention on kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, a tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia. Kratom leaves have been consumed in countries like Thailand and Malaysia for over 500 years. The herb is now available in the U.S. just like other herbal supplements.

Kratom is not an opiate. Many studies have shown kratom to have positive medicinal benefits. Kratom is legal in 44 states. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released a December 2015 report that found: “Kratom does not currently constitute a significant risk to the safety and welfare of Florida residents.”

Nonetheless, on August 31, 2016, the DEA, under fire for its inability to remedy the US opioid crisis, announced its intention to place kratom into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in order to avoid a supposed “imminent hazard to public safety,” which, in reality, does not exist. In truth, kratom has never been present alone in a single documented death and is as about as habit-forming as the coffee to which it is related. By contrast, pharmaceutical drugs are one of the leading causes of death in this country, killing one American every 19 minutes. Prescription opiate pain killers account for more than 475,000 emergency room visits annually.

The Botanical Education Alliance (BEA) is an organization dedicated to educating consumers, lawmakers, law enforcement, and the media about safe and therapeutic natural supplements including Mitragyna speciosa, also known as Kratom. BEA’s mission is to increase understanding in order to influence public policy and protect natural supplements. The vision of the Alliance is to create a society where every adult has the right to access safe and effective natural supplements. http://www.botanical-education.org/

The America Kratom Association (AKA), a consumer-based non-profit, is here to set the record straight, giving voice to the suffering and our rights to possess and consume kratom. AKA represents tens of thousands of Americans; each with a unique story to tell about the virtues of kratom and its positive effects on our lives. From Lyme Disease to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and even addiction, kratom can help offer relief. http://www.americankratom.org

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