Arkansas began its journey into American statehood as little more than a trading post. The region traded hands between the Spanish, French, and then the English, after originally being taken from the Indians. Arkansas had a surprisingly busy history for its location on the outskirts of the 13 colonies.
For its history as a center of commerce for natural products, one cannot help but be surprised at its austere stance towards such commodities in modern times.
Kratom is banned in Arkansas.
The origins of the Ban
In 2016, a review from a single doctor swayed the Arkansas legislature into being one of only 5 states to enact a kratom ban. The passage of the bill was not well received at the time, and still faces resistance. A single faulty report, with no counter argument permitted, cast the fate of the kratom community.
Once again, as is common, kratom was classified as an opiate. Of course, kratom is a part of the coffee family. Furthermore, as the kratom community has countless stories of its potential to help mitigate the opiate epidemic in America, the comparison to opiates is wholly inaccurate. While it may interact with a similar receptor in the brain, kratom is more often compared to a strong cup of coffee than it is prescription narcotics.
Considering that one is ubiquitous, and the other responsible for tens of thousands of deaths annually, the comparison of kratom to opiates which resulted in kratoms ban is bizarre. To date, kratoms most committed critics have yet to find a single death for which kratom is the culprit.
Somehow, the possession, use, or sale of kratom will net you a felony in Arkansas. Kratom has been listed as a schedule 1 drug, which is a prospect hard to fathom. A schedule 1 designation puts kratom next to the likes of meth and heroin. This makes the claim that no medicinal potential exists. Yale disagrees; so do millions of Americans who all join in a common chorus of “Kratom has saved my life.”
Overturning the Ban
The most promising prospects in the mission to overturn kratom’s ban is the precedent set by other states who made similarly inaccurate legislative proclamations, and the total disregard for science shown in the process. The American Kratom Association (AKA) is the leading advocacy group for ensuring the rights of the kratom community. So far, their efficacy has been remarkable.
Dating back to 2016, when the FDA and DEA almost teamed up to ban kratom federally, the AKA led the charge in compelling both to overturn their scheduling recommendation. Under the pretense of conjecture, fear mongering, and shoddy science, the public outrage and weak argument of the FDA crumbled. It’s the first time in history the excitable DEA has ever been stood down, as they could not find compelling evidence to ban kratom, much to the dismay of the FDA. Ever since, the AKA has formalized a support structure for kratom, and their work to enact legislation to preemptively thwart any further misinformed efforts is well underway.
The Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA) is a by-state legislative effort to protect the kratom community and their rights. While only 5 states have banned kratom, the AKA tours the KCPA across America in order to get ahead of the curve of any trigger happy critics. The KCPA not only protects the rights of the kratom community in their right to purchase and consume kratom, but also passes regulatory framework to ensure high quality product, and give a level of comfort to the governing bodies. By providing accountability from vendors, and monitoring the impact of kratom, legislators can feel confident that no ban is needed.
The KCPA has seen excellent returns. And while the FDA, counter to public wishes and bipartisan legislative support – on the federal and state level – has turned to subterfuge to protect their golden goose of opiates, the KCPA follows the blueprint of medicinal cannabis in protecting the rights of Americans to choose what to consume. It’s passage not only overturns bans, but ensures the federal government – in this case, the FDA – cannot intervene.
What’s Next for kratom in Arkansas?
The AKA is hard at work in Arkansas, but as of yet, tangible results cannot be reported. In large part, this is due to COVID. The KCPA was picking up significant momentum in early 2020, and has been reaching states like Vermont with marked results.
When the AKA is able to make their pitch, they find success. Simply by presenting the science, most state legislative bodies have pivoted rather quickly. However, some Southern states are showing a resistance to kratom. So much for the myth of the South being home of independent rebels and free spirits.
But the AKA has another crucial argument. By presenting stories of those who’ve been positively affected by kratom, the AKA is almost always able to draw a significant reaction during their presentation. Veterans, the elderly, the chronically ill, and all walks of life have said that kratom has changed their lives in a nearly unquantifiable way, and for the better. These stories have a way of moving legislators in a way the science does not.
How to Help
Thus, as members of the kratom community, it is our job to continue to be vocal. Our voices, amplified by the AKA, carried the day in 2016. Be patient with those who have yet to learn; encourage transparency with those looking to understand; and share accurate facts with this wishing to know. Report shady kratom products to the AKA – anything that is marketed as a ‘legal high’ or marketed as a comparison to opiates or marijuana. This is hugely damaging to the kratom community, and this is what the FDA locks in on. It is their ammunition. These terrible kratom products do not reflect the community, or the product. They are made as money grabs with low quality products. Do not purchase them, and report them if you feel so inclined. With any luck, the AKA can help educate the vendors on why this is so damaging.
The AKA is always taking donations (We are not affiliated with the AKA, though we wholeheartedly support their mission.) They have been highly effective, and they need all the help they can get.
Treat kratom, its users, its detractors, and everyone else with respect and compassion. Educate with transparency and patience. It’s the quickest way to ensure that kratom remains legal for those of us who enjoy it, and becomes accessible for those of us who wish to.
Peace and Love.