Currently, Louisiana is considering HB452, Provides Relative to the Uniform Controlled Substance Law, which would effectively list a widely popular herbal supplement, kratom, as a Schedule I substance in the state.
Kratom or mitragyna speciosa is a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia. M. speciosa is indigenous to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea, where it has been used in traditional medicine since at least the nineteenth century. More recently, kratom has helped thousands of consumers seek relief from chronic pain, depression and other issues, including coping from withdrawals from substances such as heroin.
If passed, HB452 would place many former heroin addicts and patients who rely on the substance for chronic pain relief at risk, which would undoubtedly place a strain on local hospitals, drug rehab facilities, and medical facilities at a time when health care costs are spiraling out of control.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a former heroin addict who has been in recovery for three years and regularly uses Kratom to manage the symptoms of chronic pain and emotional trauma, offered his concerns to Big Easy Magazine.
“I don’t know what I would do without safe access to Kratom. I’ve been clean for three years now. I have a family. I have a job. I’m a healthy, happy young man with many friends, all of which I’ve never enjoyed as former drug addict. Kratom has helped me manage withdrawals and has taken away the urge for me to consume alcohol and other substances. I’m not sure why the government is so laser focused on this drug when legal drugs such as alcohol kill thousands of people daily and destroy lives.”
Ashley Daily with Euphorbia Kava bar, which also relies on Kratom for a large portion of their sales told us, “the removal of kratom products would jeopardize my business, and the jobs of my employees. I’m almost certain that many folks in our community would quit coming to their perceived safe place, and begin consuming dangerous substances again. Louisiana HB452 puts lives at risk. It puts small businesses at risk. We cannot allow this bill to pass.”
The bill would also impact thousands of local businesses throughout the state who rely on kratom products as their primary revenue source.
After a recent CDC study relating to drug overdose deaths related to kratom, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been advocating for a ban. The study, which involved over 27,000 overdose deaths in 27 states, found 91 of those deaths (or one half of one percent) to be due, in part, to kratom. However, in over 90 percent of those cases other toxic substances, such as fentanyl, heroin, and benzodiazepines, were also present in the deceased.
In fact, only seven of the kratom-related deaths were found to be due to kratom alone. Even so, the CDC stated that they could not conclude definitively in those seven deaths that Kratom was the sole reason for their death.
The DEA has attempted to list kratom as a Schedule I drug before. The most recent attempt was in August 2016. However, after a public outcry, the DEA withdrew its intent to Schedule kratom. In February 2018, the Food and Drug Administration officially labeled kratom as an opioid.
By advancing HB452, Louisiana joins a handful of other states in pushing for the criminalization of kratom:
Kratom is currently illegal in:
- Denver (Colorado) – banned for human consumption
- Jerseyville (Illinois)
- Rhode Island
- San Diego (California)
- Sarasota County (Florida)
- Washington D.C
Scott Ploof is the publisher of Big Easy Magazine, and his guest columns about progressive issues have been featured in various news publications.