With the growing popularity of Kratom, many organizations are forming to spread awareness of its benefits as well as educate those who have fallen prey to falsehoods and misinformation. These organizations are gaining traction in the somewhat daunting battle that is Kratom’s legality and with it, its good name.
The American Kratom Association
The American Kratom Association was established in 2014 with the mission of protecting the rights of all Americans to use this natural botanical and further, protect this precious natural resource. As the interest in Kratom grows, both negatively and positively, this organization offers insight through articles with up to date Kratom news and scientific informative studies. This information is readily available through their website which allows skeptics, lawmakers, regulators and the average citizen to make informative decisions on behalf of Kratom.
The American Kratom Association believes in the importance of every individual’s personal experience and prides themselves on their ability to make these voices heard. Much of the work they do allows supporters to share their success stories and get involved with legislative actions. The AKA offers devotees opportunities to take action within their specified community through donations and directly through the contacting of state legislature. In example, when a vote in favor of criminalization is called in a particular state, the committee or representatives are bombarded with phone calls from community members pleading a swift rejection. It is because of the American Kratom Association and additional unions dedicated to the cause, that many of these bills fail to pass leaving Kratom safe from outlaw.
Beginning August 18th, 2015, Florida introduced House bill 0073, a bill to ban Kratom and classify it as a “schedule 1” controlled substance; a category with high abusive natures and absolutely no medicinal benefits. With this announcement came an uproar within the Kratom society. The American Kratom Society began to flood legislative members with emails and phone calls educating those on the necessity of an expulsion. The bill made its way through the different chapters of government but died when it landed in the laps of Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee on March 11th, 2016. For the second year in a row, this bill was thwarted. Florida’s activists rejoice for now, but remain aware of the lingering pressures.
New Hampshire’s Fight
February 1st 2016, Senate Bill 540 was introduced incorporating the banning of sale, use and possession of Kratom in the state of New Hampshire. Organizations took up arms against the bill which resulted in an amendment of an age regulation. Now the bill states that the use, sale and possession of Kratom while under the age of 18 was illegal. A triumph for all responsible Kratom users. The current status is passed with adoption of the amendment by the senate and an “ought to pass” within the house by May 11th 2016.
Long Road Ahead
Ultimately, these are just small battles in the arduous war for Kratom’s adoption as a legal substance. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of supporters all over the world working to make these issues known and provide the necessary pressures in their own community legislatures. For now, as each state moves closer, they celebrate the hard work of these individuals and see how the future will unfold. To remain updated with a particular state, The American Kratom Association maintains an access point to the latest news as well as a comprehensive list of each state’s legal status.
A Culture Born on Kratom: Thailand’s Prohibition Symposium
Kratom planting was widely accepted in Thailand culture until a drastic overhaul to enforce regulations in 1943. The question is: What caused that massive shift in governmental opinion?
The Mitragyna Speciosa (Kratom), a tropical tree native to Thailand and Malaysia, is a surprising relative to the evergreen tree, though bountiful in its applications. It has oval shaped leaves with broad tapers, yellow-flowered offshoots, and winged seeds as adaptations. Generally, the coloration is of dark to light green for the leaves, with the capability of growing 15-50 feet tall. The trees proliferate throughout the native jungles and forests of Thailand. Of course, these attributes fail to highlight the primary reason for its co-evolution for centuries throughout the Malaysian and Thailand ecosystems. This being: Market Utility.
In Thailand, the practice of applying Kratom leaves to medicinal purposes grew from communal usage by nomadic tribes systemic to the jungle environment for its profound opioid chemical properties. Because, as so many importers and foreign nations found; the Mitragyna Speciosa washes ashore through foreign trade and plasters itself as a legitimate supplement product wherever it resides (drastic increase in Kratom imports into the U.S. post 2008). Thus ensuring free enterprise will pick up its market share as a ‘supplement’, similar to coffee, which ironically is in its family.
Luckily, most civilizations from Thailand, which have evidence of Kratom usage, correlate its usage as necessary for ritualistic purposes, medicinal and supplemental (also as anti-diarrheic). This ensured that the human population of Thailand, up until western intervention and competition, took care to proscribe cultural restraints on the growth of the tree and its reciprocal use. Though as governments change, so does popular opinion…
It wasn’t until the eve of August 3, 1943 that Kratom would be banished, when the Thai government passed the Kratom Act 2486 ensuring the government had market control and public control over the planting rights of Mitragyna Speciosa, the clinical applications, import, and export. Was it an epidemic of procurement that needed to cede or rather a desire for control over the market by the Thai government?
As prohibition acts rarely work in a democratized country (see Prohibition Act of 1918), the Thai population continued to placate the plant as a central facet of their culture, even with the looming proscription of harsh penalties varying from jail-sentences to burdening fines by their government. More concerning from the prohibition, was the efficacy of Kratom in its effect on opium dependency, allowing users to drastically reduce addictions to morphine derivatives. Though if you were to look deeper, the Thai government had stake on opium imports, and with users flocking to procure Kratom, it seemed that tax-breaks wouldn’t make it back to the federal government. Thus, the enforcement was necessary. Or was it?
However, the government failed to realize that merely limiting individual planting would not lead to a definitive decrease in natural Mitragyna Speciosa trees. The countryside remained scattered with Kratom trees, and although illegal, the trees remained within arms reach of the population, promoting its illegal usage further. Even adding failure more so, the government promoted initiatives wherein the destruction and deforestation of Kratom trees was promoted. Of course, this too failed to work.
So, as of now, the Thai government has pushed the Kratom tree and its opioid containing leaves, into the status of a Narcotic Level 5, making it illegal to buy, sell, import, or possess. Though, the citizen body has pushed for narcotics reform for quite some time, which brings up the next question. Will Thai culture bring back the legal rights of a tree indigenous to their civilization? Only time will tell, but for now you may buy kratom safely!
Kratom, a plant native to Southeast Asia with Malaysia and Thailand being the main growing regions is a family member of the Mitragyna, is in the same family as the psychoactive plant Psychotria Viridis and coffee. Kratom is cultivated and produced whereby its green leaves are dried and then made into an oily resin or powder. It has been in existence for hundreds of years, but it only in this century (21st century) that it has attracted a lot of attention.Also known as Kakuam, Ketum, Thom and Ithang, it contains over twenty five alkaloids including seven-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine. These alkaloids functions as mu-opioid receptor adversary. The 3 most common indoles are paynanthine, speciogynine and mitragynine which is responsible for half of the alkaloid element (nine methoxy-corynantheidine). The 2 most common oxindoles are speciofoline and mitraphylline. Other alkaloids include rhynchophylline, ajmalicine, mitraversine and corynantheidine. Mitragynine is said, but hasn’t been proven to be the most active alkaloid or element in Mitragyna Speciosa.
Current Legal Status of Kratom
Kratom & Media
Kratom strains derive their naming from their geographical region where they grow. Some of the more popular strains thrive in the eastern Asia continents in areas such as Bali, Malay, Borneo, Indonesia, and Thailand. Depending on the strain selected the alkaloid content is usually high because the plants grown in warm and humid tropical climate. Research shows that red veined leaves have a high concentration of 7-hydroxymitragynine alkaloid, which has euphoric and analgesic properties. The red veined kratom is known to have sedative and mild analgesic properties, moreover they are the most abundant kratoms around the globe. On the other hand, white strain contains more mitragynine, which according to studies increases cognitive capabilities and cell activity.
Green-veined kratom is classified with the white veined kratom because they share most properties, however it is has its own spectrum of effects and effectiveness. Some journals indicate that the effectiveness and efficacy of the herb can be enhanced by mixing different strains to bring out a hybrid that will balance all the features while bringing harmony with different aspects of the herb. The grading and potency is mainly determined by the mode of planting, nurturing, harvesting and post-harvesting process, which largely affects the amount of alkaloid content in the kratom. Some of the available grades include commercial, super and ultra enhanced these are classes of the powders according to the aspects mentioned above. Weather, environmental factors, preparation techniques, age of the tree are some of the aspects, which determine the potency of the kratom herb. Potency in herbs is measured by the alkaloid content the final product especially the leaves, powders and extracts. Research on the plant indicates that possible medicinal benefits can be derived because of the wide array of alkaloid mixed together, however this is still under research.
Kratom plant has over twenty-five different alkaloids that combine to form over 40 active compounds, the counterbalancing nature of the alkaloid components reduces the overall adverse effect. Since the kratoms stimulate delta opiod receptors while opiates stimulate the mu-opioid receptors further studies shows that the alkaloids acts as NMDA channel blockers this is essential because it reduces the chances of developing dependence on the alkaloids. The kratom available in powder form is the most potent because the alkaloid content is maintained at the highest level. The Mitragyna Speciosa is temperature sensitive and the leave can fall when subjected to 4 degree Celsius or 39.2 degree Fahrenheit, the flimsy nature of kratom tree requires that it should be planted in areas where it can gain adequate support, with fertile, sunny, and warm environment. The plant cannot grow in other parts of the world even in greenhouses, ethno botanist agree that the plant is intelligent as it is versatile and requires optimum weather and biotic factors to produce high quality alkaloids.
Mitragyna Speciosa or what is popularly known as kratom in most parts of the world is a tropical evergreen deciduous tree that is classified under the Rubiaceae family, the plant originates from Indochina and Southeast Asia region. The plant grows naturally in the tropical rainforests of Thailand and Indonesia and it can grow to between 12- 30 feet and 15 feet wide. The kratom plant can be deciduous or evergreen depending on the prevailing climatic and weather conditions. The leaves of kratom plant are dark green and may grow between 4 inches and 7 inches with an ovate-acuminate shape. In most cases, the flowers are yellow and grow in clusters towards the end of the branch.
Kratom thrives in wet, humus rich soil with a protected environment, the plant is a heavy feeder and it requires a very fertile soil. Moreover, the mode of propagation is through cuttings or seeds and the plant is nature sensitive therefore, it will thrive in specific regions of the world. Research indicates that kratom acts like a mu-opiod receptor agonist just like morphine. Kratom has over twenty-five alkaloids; however, the most abundant are mitragynine or 9-methoxy-corynantheidine, indoles, stipulatine, rhychophylline, corynanthedine, and ajmalicine. The first two are the most abundant making about a half of the alkaloid content.
Studies show that kratom has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antidepressant and sedative properties this has made it one of the most research herbs. The alkaloids such as mitrogynine are classified under opiates this means that kratom possesses opiate properties and it has a high affinity for opiate receptors in the brain. Studies show that the alteration of the opiate receptors induces euphoria among other feelings. The difference between opiates and kratom is the mitragynine has preference for the delta receptors while the opiates are known to have a high affinity for the mu-opiod receptors. The active components of the kratom are 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine pseudoindoxyl. Studies indicate that kratom contains rhynchophylline which is a calcium channel blocker this in turn reduces NMDA-induced current. The level of mitragynine in a plant is largely influenced by various factors such as location, mode of planting, the weather, soil type, materials used in nurturing, harvesting techniques, processing and packaging methods. Kratom grown in the southeastern Asia continent have high amounts of alkaloids; however, when the plant is grown in other parts of the world even in green houses the alkaloid level drops drastically to none.
Analysis shows that the levels of mitragynine in the most common kratom sold for research has 7-15 % of the active component. The chemical structure and spatial distribution of the mitragynine atoms incorporates the nucleus of tryptamine, this is known to be responsible for molecules, which are seen in adrenergic and serotonin systems. The phenolic methyl ether in mitragynine is the strongest analgesic paradigms as per recent research journal.