Drugs: The Gap Between Law and Health

Kratom is a green leaf of a tree of the coffee family. It’s been used for centuries in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. The leaf has been gaining popularity in the US, but not for the original use of boosting energy. Taking 2-3 grams of Kratom is said to induce euphoria and reduce pain while not experiencing the side effects of prescription opioids (Gruley, 2016). This is all great news: an alternative pain relieving agent that is an unregulated plant. Initial data from the University of Florida shows the demographic with the highest usage is white, employed and educated males between 31 and 50 years old with a salary of at least $75,000 per year.

Despite the benefits of Kratom, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are working to classify the plant as Schedule I which would prevent the promising studies and treatments from ever coming to fruition. Contrary to the positive case studies of patients using Kratom, the DEA and FDA have seen some patients enduring negative side effects from Kratom (Gruley, 2016). Patients getting sick, going through withdrawals upon stopping treatment, and the illegal smuggling of the substance across national borders highly tempts American regulatory bodies to classify Kratom as a Schedule I drug. Whether it’s bath salts, Kratom, or the latest trending drug, the regulatory bodies will always be playing catch up.