-Examining the legal climate and outlook of kratom in the state of Alabama
Kratom is illegal in Alabama.
Regardless of one’s proclivity for the deep south, Ol’ Bama has its charms. But it’s not such a ‘sweet home’ for those in the kratom community.
Following the lead of the FDA’s failed campaign to schedule Kratom, in 2016, Kratom was made illegal in Alabama. Taking a look at the bill, one can find a deeply flawed understanding of the kratom plant. The compounds in kratom that cause effects, like mitragynine, are listed as “synthetics”. This is, of course, inaccurate. It poses a deeply troubling issue in which the very understanding of what kratom is has led Alabamans astray.
Kratom and Alabama
Yet hope springeth eternal. The American Kratom Association has been leading an aggressive state-by-state campaign to pass the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA). This seeks to reverse any bans made on a state level and preempt any federal legislative action, like what the FDA tried and failed to do in 2016. While the leading lawyer of the AKA Mac Haddow has been on the forefront, progress has stalled due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Even still, the AKA retains a consistent lobbying presence in Alabama, and tracking the tremendous progress that Mr. Haddow and his team have made in educating legislators – who by and large pivot their positions upon hearing the facts and potential of kratom – one can only hope that a cessation of the Coronavirus sees progress resume in Alabama.
There was opposition to the ban when it was passed. If one views the petitions sent to the state legislature by Alabama residents you can read dozens of stories from the likes of veterans, chemists, students, and lawyers, who note the relief kratom has brought them, or the inaccurate data driving the ban. More resistance has followed, but has been ignored.
With little exception, opiate deaths in Alabama have been on the rise in the past 20 years. Alabama has, by far, the highest rate of prescriptions of opiates per person; it is a stunning 97.5 prescriptions per 100 people. This does not seem possible. Consider that – statistically, essentially every resident in Alabama had a prescription for narcotics written for them in 2018. The national average is a shocking 50%, as is, but in Alabama, it is difficult to fathom the extent of opiates prevalence. Just a year after banning kratom, the governor of Alabama created a council to track the crippling impact of opiates in the state. No mention of kratom has been presented as a means to reduce the harm. One has to wonder how nominal this committee is, seeing as how it is glossing over hundreds of thousands of anecdotal case studies in which Americans eschew dangerous narcotic painkillers for kratom and find their lives improved in nearly every measurable.
Now, were I prone to deep conspiracies, I would think it convenient that the state with some of the highest numbers of opiate prescriptions (And thus fatalities) – which in our dear America, means profit – also is one of the few states to have kratom banned. The irony would be comical were it not so damaging. Kratom, erroneously banned for being a “Synthetic Substance”, has extremely low risk factors; meanwhile, the actually synthetic, opiate based painkillers, are responsible for nearly a thousand deaths a year in the state. But hey, don’t you worry. Somebody is making a killing from selling all those pills. And yes, unfortunately, that is a double entendre.
The Future of Kratom in Alabama
As mentioned, Mac Haddow and the AKA have Alabama firmly in their sights. The elections of 2020 will likely see a shift away from some of the legislative members who have been so resistant to an acknowledgment of the facts. At the minimum, we hope they would begin recognizing that kratom is not synthetic – anyone with a middle school level education could tell you that – and at best realizing what a boon it could be in reducing the number of tragic and preventable opiate related deaths in Alabama.
The first step is repealing the flawed bill which banned kratom, and the second is the passage of the KCPA. While not guaranteed to be consecutive, they are likely to be passed in conjunction; however, even just a removal on the ban would suffice for those in the state who are affected by this senseless law.
Alabama currently claims there is no medicinal potential in kratom. Yale disagrees (Coincidentally, they understand the difference between “synthetic” and “natural”). The AKA and millions of Americans who find relief in kratom also disagree. We’d ask Alabama not to ignore kratom, but to join with the community in finding ways to best regulate it, while also ensuring safe, simple, and consistent access for its citizens. Transparency has always been a defining mantra of the kratom community; there are no secrets, no agendas, no hidden motives. Countless many have spoken up and shared the same story. This blog alone has numerous interviews detailing individuals who credit kratom with an enormous positive shift in nigh every aspect of their daily living.
Arrests for kratom, occurring as recently as a few months ago, are senseless, and reek of the now decried norm of prison time for non-violent drug offenders. Our society simply has no place for imprisoning kratom or cannabis users. Meanwhile, alcohol and tobacco – which I believe Americans should be free to consume, within reason (like age limits) – are beloved in the deep south, and nobody bats an eye at the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by both across the nation. Similarly, while pharmaceutical companies pass out dangerous opiates like candy in Alabama, the state government is flailing in clandestine committees, with clear limits to their knowledge and competence denying crucial lifelines to the suffering populace of Alabama.
Making Change – Decriminalize Kratom
As a community, we must continue our aggressive push for education, sensible regulation, and universal decriminalization of kratom. Alabama is one of the few states in the nation that still holds dear to draconic, aging drug laws. If they would only take a hint from our Western friends, they would see that kratom is not a substance to be feared. It needs to be studied, promoted for use as the anecdotal evidence is codified into scientific standard, and above all, utilized to combat the terrifying opiate epidemic currently ravaging the state and our country at large.
And short all of that?
Doesn’t the south have a deep love for freedom of choice, agency? Why, then, are their options limited to the enrichment of already gilded pharmaceutical companies, taking drugs that are proven to be dangerous and overused, at cause for tens of thousands of preventable American deaths annually?
For now, let’s just focus on the task at hand; let’s aid our brothers and sisters in Alabama in pushing for the decriminalization of kratom, and ultimately, the passage of the KCPA. They need it.
Want to help? The AKA accepts donations and has made tremendous progress in ensuring the rights of kratom users remain.
-(We are not affiliated with the AKA, though we wholeheartedly and materially support the cause. The AKA produces results and fights for our rights.)