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Destination: AKA

The American Kratom Association leadership and how they plan to keep Kratom legal.
Kratom Legality


-How the journey of the American Kratom Association mirrors that of kratom itself

Personal photo of the American Kratom Association representative Matt Salmon
Rep. Matt Salmon

The American Kratom Association was established in 2014 but didn’t really emerge as a formidable force until 2016, when the FDA and the DEA attempted to add kratom to their scheduling program and effectively ban it. Ironically, the AKA would have likely remained relatively obscure were it not for the efforts to ban kratom. In the vacuum of administrative leadership the AKA emerged and proved the unifying force behind the torrent of support for keeping kratom available, and ever since, has flourished as its visibility and efficacy as a political power increases. 

The AKA has recently seen a change in leadership that may be indicative of not only the goals of the organization but also the national climate regarding kratom. Dave Herman, who has led the AKA since its inception, has just stepped down, citing his age and the requirements for the position moving forward having evolved. This alone provides fascinating insight into the perceived changes to the relative position of kratom in the minds of law and policy makers. Herman had retired from his work in public policy some years and was able to dedicate himself full time to a mission more aligned with “education and policy ideation.” This reflects the relative obscurity of kratom as it was before the foray from the FDA to ban it. Kratom was, at that point, still very much a niche ‘supplement’ or ‘alternative medicine’. Herman’s mission reflected that the primary mission of the AKA was to inform and educate, bringing kratom out of the dark.

Matt Salmon, who spent five terms as a congressman from Arizona, is the new Chairman of the Board. His extensive and recent experience in Washington is no coincidence and further illustrates the evolution of not only the AKA but kratom’s place in the nation’s consciousness. Mr. Salmon has an immediacy with his constituents and lawmakers, something which has never been more relevant as now the AKA’s mission has shifted from informing to instituting responsible regulations and laws regarding kratom. HIs background at Arizona State University in education policy no doubt has him cognizant of the need to dispel ignorance and ensure a factual basis for kratom related policy making, but the AKA’s emphasis on reaching lawmakers shows that kratom has passed on from its infancy as a niche product and now is poised to be effected with consequential regulatory motions. The AKA is showing dexterity in its approach to protecting kratom.

As seen in our own interview with Mac Haddow, the AKA is applying significant pressure to legislative bodies – both federal and state – to ensure that kratom is protected. Welcoming transparency – an excellent tactic which disarms critics – and encouraging regulations, Mr. Haddow and other lobbyists from the AKA have struck a chord with many national lawmakers in a country with changing views on regulating people’s agency with directing their own healthcare, as evidenced by the rising popularity of medical marijuana laws and the explosion of CBD products. Doubling down with the hiring of Mr. Salmon, whose connections in Washington will no doubt help on a federal level and give credibility to the movement, the AKA continues to consolidate its gains and elevate its aspirations.

American Kratom Association Leadership
Thanks to the AKA, we’ve yet to see the gavel.

An examination of the other board members of the AKA gives further insight. Chris Bake, a board member, is a successful and energetic venture capitalist, with an extensive record of business and marketing experience. His placement is no doubt to ensure the AKA’s suffers no strain to its perception, and also to direct the regulations in such a way that kratom vendors and business models are not damaged by impending regulations. The executive director Peter Candland is noted to have a working relationship and knowledge of the IRS; this is indicative of the AKA’s forward thinking approach to business, as such a relationship pays little dividends now but ultimately will become relevant as kratom becomes a significant niche of American business. 

In just 6 years since its inception, the AKA has seen tremendous growth. But when one tracks the explosive evolution of the plant they advocate for, this comes as little surprise. With 2016 as a watershed moment in the history of kratom in America, the stages of the evolution of the plant and all that accompanies it, like its legal status and business considerations, continue to move along a somewhat unprecedented path. The effectiveness of the AKA cannot be ignored, as the AKA has matched lock-step the changes kratom has seen impressed upon its community. 

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that a community fighting for such an important cause attracts good people and has remarkable results.

-Andrew Whitney


More Posts

Close up of kratom powder

How to Find the Best Kratom Online

Shopping for kratom online can be daunting. Because kratom still isn’t regulated at the federal level, it’s a bit like the Wild West. You don’t

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Gloria

    Welcome chairman Salmon! Great to hear the AKA is upping its efforts!

  2. Dave Mazenger

    Keep it up TKC! These guys really do need more exposure.

  3. Richard Galloway

    Transparency leads to regulation which leads to a safer industry. Can’t wait to see it put into action.

  4. Paul Brown

    Long live the AKA and its supporters!

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Nothing in this article is intended to be taken as medical advice. Always consult with your physician before making any choices about your health. Kratom does not cure any diseases. This blog does not suggest that any physician directed medical treatments or programs be replaced by kratom. Kratom should not be used as a replacement for any doctor prescribed medications. Consult with your doctor before you make any decisions regarding kratom. Do not mix kratom with any medications unless you have consulted your doctor first. This space encourages education, moderation, and caution when imbibing information, or any substance. This space does not encourage the consumption of any products as medical treatments, and does not suggest that kratom should be used in place of any doctor prescribed or suggested medicines. Always follow state, local, and federal laws regarding kratom, and all else. This space is intended as a place for educational discourse, contemplation, and conjecture regarding kratom.


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