The House Just Passed a Bill That Could Make Kratom Illegal

Kratom Pills

By Peter Hesson June 18, 2018

Kratom, an herbal drug used by chronic pain patients and people with opioid use disorder, has been on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s chopping block for years, but it could become illegal a lot sooner than expected. On Friday, 239 members of the US House of Representatives voted to pass H.R.2851, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act — SITSA Act for short — which is intended to help fight the growing opioid epidemic in the US. Unfortunately, it could also have the side effect of giving the Department of Justice broad authority to make kratom illegal.

The SITSA Act, which has not yet been approved by the Senate, would expand the Controlled Substances Act to include one additional category of drugs: Schedule A. Currently, the CSA includes five categories — or “Schedules” — of drugs, numbered I through V. Schedule I contains illegal drugs like heroin and LSD, and Schedules II through V contain drugs that could be abused but are available with prescriptions (for instance, oxycodone is Schedule II and Ambien is Schedule IV).

See also: Kratom Could Be Illegal Before It Gets a Chance to Solve the Opioid Crisis

Under the SITSA Act, the Justice Department could quickly place any analogues of existing drugs into Schedule A. An analogue is any drug that has a similar chemical structure and an “actual or predicted” effect that’s similar to a drug that’s already scheduled. That’s what worries advocates of kratom, an herbal drug that is not currently illegal but has opioid properties.

On its face, the bill is focused squarely on synthetic opioids that are fueling the opioid crisis. The only specific drugs it lists are 13 chemical analogues of fentanyl, the powerful opioid that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blames for a large portion of the recent increases in opioid overdose deaths. If passed, the SITSA Act will give the Justice Department broad authority to quickly assign these fentanyl varieties a similar legal status as fentanyl, making it possible to swiftly prosecute anyone distributing substances that aren’t actually illegal.

But as concerned critics have pointed out, the SITSA Act also opens the door for an even broader interpretation of the law, in which the Justice Department could quickly add other chemicals to Schedule A without much oversight. Compounds can remain for up to five years in that category until there’s sufficient research to back up a permanent scheduling decision.

This is what kratom advocates are specifically worried about. In February, the US Food and Drug Administration warned that kratom is chemically similar to opioids and could therefore fuel the opioid crisis. As Inverse has reported, experts question the FDA’s assessment of the danger posed by kratom. Nevertheless, if the SITSA Act passes, that FDA report could be all the evidence the DEA needs to place kratom into Schedule A. At that point, the Justice Department would have five years to place it into a more permanent category.

The #SITSA Act (HR 2851) attempts to address the very real problem of synthetic #opioid overdoses in the U.S., but we believe that its methods are misguided.
Read our letter to House reps to learn more about our opposition: https://t.co/5txjpifMNF pic.twitter.com/38D7oa7dM9

— FAMM Foundation (@FAMMFoundation) June 14, 2018

In an open letter to Congress published on June 14, Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, the NAACP, and over a dozen other organizations expressed opposition to the bill, arguing that it would disproportionately punish drug users rather than manufacturers or distributors. “The legislation attempts to address the very real problem of synthetic opioid overdoses in the United States, but we believe that its methods are misguided,” the letter reads. “Instead of punishing people who use drugs and low-level dealers, legislation should focus on expanding treatment opportunities and targeting the international drug trade.”

Additionally, the SITSA Act includes language outlining criminal penalties (fines and prison time) rather than treatment or rehabilitation. So, while the prime motivation behind the SITSA Act may be public health, it could do more harm than good by further criminalizing drug addiction instead of helping expand treatment resources for people who need them.

And as far as kratom goes, if the rules of the SITSA Act eventually make it illegal, then researchers will have a much harder time investigating whether it could actually be a safer alternative to opioids.

CONTINUE READING…

SITSA creates a new “Schedule A” that gives the Attorney General of the United States the power to ban any “analogue” of an opioid that controls pain or provides an increase of energy.

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Kratom Advocates:

If you’ve had one of those days that starts with friends calling you with bad news, and the news just gets worse and worse as the day goes on – then that describes my day perfectly.

On Friday of last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, dropped a bill in the U.S. Senate that our lobbyists believe will give the FDA and DEA a backdoor way of banning kratom completely in the United States.

S. 1327 is euphemistically called the SITSA Act.  And a companion bill in the US House of Representatives has already been filed, H.R. 2851, by Representative John Katco of New York.

The SITSA Act stands for the “Stop Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017.”
SITSA creates a new “Schedule A” that gives the Attorney General of the United States the power to ban any “analogue” of an opioid that controls pain or provides an increase of energy.

That is kratom. Because kratom’s 2 primary alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, though not opioids, act similarly in some ways.
They could of just called this bill the “Schedule Kratom” Act.

This legislation will allow the Attorney General, and his supporters at the DEA, to add kratom to Schedule A on a “temporary basis” that will last for 5 years.
And once added to Schedule A, the Attorney General can convert it to a permanent schedule.
After everything that we’ve fought successfully against and endured together as a movement, our lobbyists are concerned that this is now the perfect storm for banning kratom.

Under the current Controlled Substances Act, the FDA and DEA have to prove conclusively that kratom is dangerously addictive and unsafe for consumer use. That’s why we were able to stop them in their tracks when they tried to ram through an “emergency scheduling” ban on kratom.

And it is why the FDA is having such a tough time in finding some justification to schedule kratom under regular rulemaking.

So now the anti-kratom bureaucrats in Washington want to ban kratom simply by claiming it has the same effects as an opioid – calling it an “analogue” of the opioid.

And the SITSA Act can enforce a ban on kratom by criminalizing any manufacturer or distributor of kratom. Ten years imprisonment just for manufacturing or selling a kratom product, and a fine of $500,000 if you are an individual, $2,500,000 if the defendant is a company.

If you import or export kratom, it is a 20-year sentence.

And then there are harsh penalties for what they call “false labeling” of a Schedule A substance.
That’s why am writing – because I need your help again.

We have to convince Sen. Grassley, Sen. Feinstein, and Representative Katko that they have to exempt natural botanical plants from the SITSA Act.
We have to act quickly, because I learned today that the House Judiciary Committee is looking to schedule a Hearing before they leave for recess next month.

So I hope you will help by doing three specific things:

1.    Click on the link below and sign our petition that the AKA will have delivered to every member of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. 

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION URGING LAWMAKERS TO REMOVE KRATOM FROM THE SITSA ACT.

2.    I need you to pick up the phone and call Sen. Grassley’s office, Sen. Feinstein’s office, and Representative Katco’s office. When the staff member answers the phone, tell them that their boss should exclude natural botanicals like kratom products from the SITSA Act.

Here are the phone numbers you should call:

Senator Grassley:    (202) 224-3744
Senator Feinstein:    (202) 224-3841
Congressman Katco:    (202) 225-3701

When you call, be polite, but firm.  Kratom should be exempted from SITSA.

3.    Please click on the donation link below and help us once again to take on this fight with a team of lawyers, lobbyists, and public relations professionals.  Please consider making a monthly contribution to the AKA.

DONATION LINK TO HELP THE AKA FIGHT THIS LEGISLATION.

I know I am asking a lot.

But we need to fight back hard, or they will steal our freedoms from us to make our own decisions about our health and well-being.

So please, sign the petition, call the the sponsors of SITSA, and please, please, give as generous a contribution as you can to help us put our team on the ground in Washington, D.C.

With your help, we have established ourselves as a real force in Washington.

With your continued help – help that I am so grateful for – we can win this battle against the enemies of kratom.

Your contribution will help us hire the lawyers we need for a brief on why this legislation violates due process and current law; our lobbyists to knock on doors on Capitol Hill; and our public relations team to rally the press to tell our story.

We will stand up for freedom.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Susan Ash
Founder and Spokesperson
American Kratom Association
www.americankratom.org

http://mailchi.mp/americankratom/new-legislative-attack-on-kratom?e=2709219685

https://www.facebook.com/kratom.us/photos/rpp.260289027341069/873568049346494/?type=3&theater