Mitragyna Speciosa, A.K.A. Kratom, has almost become a staple in the American counterculture. Walk into any head shop, smoke shop, or locally owned convenience store and you are sure to find hidden behind the counter at least the Maeng Da strain, if you are lucky there will be a couple of others to choose from. Kratom was not widely known until the Food and Drug Administration decided to place kratom on the radar back in October 2016. The DEA blindsided consumers in August with a sudden announcement that it would make two compounds in kratom – mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine – Schedule I substances, effectively banning the plant with as little as 30 days’ notice. By doing so, the FDA only hindered their hopes of banning the beneficial herb due to an overwhelming outcry by the kratom community. 1
Never before has the FDA seen a public campaign of this nature. “Based on the response we’ve gotten over the last month or so, we believe it’s the prudent and reasonable action to take,” DEA spokesman Russ Baer says. “We want to make sure this is a transparent process. We want to have an open dialog with the public.”2 During the public comment period, well over 2,000 kratom advocates, who were greatly opposed to the ban called the FDA to share their concerns and personal success stories in hopes of overturning their decision to ban the supplement. “That was eye-opening for me personally,” DEA spokesperson Melvin Patterson said to the Washington Post. “I want the kratom community to know that the DEA does hear them. Our goal is to make sure this is available to all of them.”3 Another spokesman for the FDA, Russ Baer, went on to say “They have claimed individually that kratom has given them medical value,” Baer says, “that it has medical utility ranging from migraine headaches to chronic pain, to Crohn’s disease, to anxiety, depression, opioid withdrawal – these are all conditions that medicines usually try to alleviate.”2 Even the President took notice when upset advocates flooded the White House with petitions urging Donald Trump to second guess the FDA’s hasty actions.4 Lawmakers throughout the United States also began signing legislature in hopes of gaining both public popularity and also voicing their opinions as kratom advocates, and users as well.
Maeng Da Thai
Malay Special Reserve
Thai Kratom Caps
Since the initial threat of a ban, Kratom sales have boosted throughout America both online and in the storefront. In August, when the threat of a ban loomed heavily on the kratom community, online stores experienced an overnight boom in sales leaving most vendors out of stock until things smoothed over. Many advocates, out of fear of losing access to the herb, began seeking sources outside the United States. Vendors in Indonesia began flooding Facebook groups in attempts to gain access to the Kratom community. Many offer the best strains, kilograms for under $70, and guaranteed shipment through customs. Canadian farms also became another source for many Kratom connoisseurs to purchase through. This left many buyers in outrage as their product was confiscated in route by customs, or they sent money via PayPal only to never hear from the seller again and be out large sums of money.
When researching Kratom use, or rise thereof, in the United States, I found little information on the exact number of users. In fact, since studies in general have rarely been conducted a search through Google only turned up minimal information. One thread on Reddit had this to say on use of kratom in America today, Reason I ask is that over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen a variety of numbers from articles/posts stating hundreds to thousands. It’s hard to get a grasp on the size of the potential constituency unless we have an idea. From the DEA’s own intent letter, they mention 55,000kg being encountered by Law Enforcement in two years (2014-2016), or close to 12 million doses (their estimation). That number of just the encountered amount really seems high for hundreds or thousands of people. Makes me wonder if the Kratom community is much bigger than we even know.
I think it’s a point worth investigating. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them. This question could be helped by any vendors that have a raw count too. This information might be useful to the AKA.”5
Regardless of the number of users, it is safe to say that Mitragyna Speciosa has taken American counterculture by storm! Whether it is used to wean off narcotics, or to eliminate pain in chronic pain patients, or one of the other many beneficial reasons to take kratom, the fact cannot be denied that Americans love their kratom! And by the looks of it, it is luckily not leaving the scene anytime soon.