Kratom Prohibition Is Stupid Too
Kerry Biggs needed help managing her chronic pain.
Years of taking prescription medications to alleviate the pain caused by her fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments had left the mother of two "feeling foggy."
Desperate to find an alternative, Biggs tried kratom. Derived from the leaves of the kratom tree, a close relative of the coffee plant, it has been used for centuries in Southeast Asia for its medicinal properties.
In small doses, kratom acts as a minor stimulant similar to caffeine. In larger doses its works as a painkiller and can act as an antidepressant for some people.
"It gave me a new lease on life," said Biggs, who was able to wean herself off prescription painkillers by using kratom. "It dampened down my pain without all the side effects that come with taking prescription drugs."
That new lease on life came to an abrupt end last year, because Biggs lives in Wisconsin. In 2014, Wisconsin became the fourth state to ban kratom.
Kratom was never mentioned by state legislators either before or after the vote that made it illegal.
Instead, two of the chemicals in it were included on a list of synthetic opioids lawmakers classified as Schedule 1 drugs, despite the fact kratom is neither synthetic nor an opioid.
No one in Madison has been able to explain how or why the chemicals ended up on the list, but their inclusion means kratom is now in the same category as heroin and cocaine.
At a meeting of the Wisconsin Controlled Substances Board last week, board member Alan Bloom said he was surprised to see the kratom on the list of schedule substances.
"They stick out like a sore thumb," said Bloom, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Bloom was blunt in his assessment of the scheduling of kratom. "There's no scientific basis for it," he told his colleagues.
But state lawmakers aren't required to rely on science in their decisions. In 2012, legislators in Indiana made kratom illegal by declaring it to be a synthetic drug.