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The FDA Kratom Import Alert Is Hurting Kratom Users And Should Be Lifted

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously attempted to make Kratom a Schedule 1 illegal drug, although ultimately they failed, a saga which can be viewed in the documentary ‘A Leaf of Faith‘. Essentially, Kratom users nationwide sent their comments to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and told their stories about how Kratom rescued them from chronic pain and drug addiction, and the DEA determined that banning Kratom would do far more harm than good, since millions of Kratom users would have no alternative besides dangerous synthetic opioids and opiates if Kratom was banned.

Despite this, the FDA has continued their Kratom misinformation campaign, and has refused to lift the Kratom import ban. Kratom was originally identified as an unapproved drug on an import alert in 2012. A multitude of individual Kratom companies were identified on this first import alert, and any products from those companies could be detained at the border by customs without any physical inspection.

The FDA intensified the Kratom import alert in 2014. This import alert focuses specifically on Kratom, unlike the previous import alert which targeted a wide variety of unapproved drugs. Also, this import alert targets any dietary supplement or bulk dietary ingredient that contains Kratom. Essentially, if customs opens a package and finds it contains Kratom they can seize it indefinitely. Additionally, there is a long list of corporations and individuals who are known to import Kratom that can have their imports seized without any physical inspection.

The original point of the FDA having the power to impose import alerts was to prevent toxic or contaminated substances from entering the country. However, in this case the FDA pushes the envelope by saying Kratom itself is a contaminant. The misinformation in the import alert is absurd, they go as far as saying that Kratom is toxic and causes hallucinations, which is completely unfounded.

Essentially, the FDA will not lift the import alert unless Kratom becomes an approved drug, but simultaneously the FDA controls the drug approval process and will never approve Kratom as a drug. Therefore, the FDA has cornered the Kratom industry with this import alert, since there is no court which has jurisdiction to lift an FDA import alert, and it is completely up to the FDA.

This FDA Kratom import alert is only damaging American Kratom users and businesses. Kratom businesses are always at risk of having their imports seized, even if Kratom is legal in their state, which seems like a perversion of the law. Kratom being seized at the border can cause Kratom businesses to go bankrupt in a worst case scenario, and in a best case scenario it causes Kratom prices to be higher. Basically, if a company’s Kratom is seized, then they have to raise prices to account for the loss.

Beyond this, the Kratom import alert is decreasing the variety of Kratom available in the United States, since some major Kratom exporters in Indonesia have been completely cutoff. Different Kratom varieties have different benefits and effects, and it is a shame that American Kratom users cannot access the full spectrum of Kratom varieties due to this import alert.

Ultimately, the FDA is supposed to use import alerts to protect Americans, but in this case the FDA is hurting Americans by seizing Kratom at the border, which results in higher Kratom prices and less variety, while simultaneously threatening American Kratom businesses.

A possible solution for this is Congress could modify the FDA’s import alert power, and make it so that the burden of proof is on the FDA, rather than the current situation where the FDA can have no proof but still institute a Kratom import alert. Hopefully at some point in the near future Congress will act and get the FDA Kratom import alert lifted via changing the law, at which point American Kratom users will be able to access a wider variety of Kratom at lower prices.