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The Impact of Alabama's Kratom Ban Harms Many Voters

What is the effect of the new Alabama law banning kratom sales, possession, and consumption? We decided to ask residents who, up until May 10th had legal access to this helpful herb. This is what they told us.

In no other profession does the client have so little say in the choice of how satisfied he or she is, than in the services provided by a medical doctor and covered by health insurance. This fact was further emphasized when the state of Alabama further limited the choices of their citizens by making it a felony to possess or sell the popular medicinal herb kratom.

Many Alabama residents tried to express the importance of this herb for the unique relief it offers them, but the promoters of this harsh law were in a rush to pass the law and they made certain that other viewpoints went unheard.

To be fair, some members of the Alabama House of Representatives listened to kratom consumers' testimonies of how much better kratom served their needs than the pharmaceutical alternatives, but those open-minded supporters in the legislature were shouted down and silenced by political chicanery.

"I'm a disabled vet and this plant helps me get out of bed in the morning more than the antidepressants the VA gives me." Honest testimonials like this veteran's were treated as if they were lies by Barry Matson and Mack Butler, the two major promoters of this bill.

It must be a shock to return from "fighting for the freedom we enjoy", only to find even a veteran isn't free to use the one herb that works best for his service-related depression.

One of the most evangelical promoters of the ban insulted defenders of kratom, referring to one in his presence, by saying, "I don't talk to druggies."

Essentially, this dispute is about freedom -- the freedom to choose the medication that serves the patient best. We are accused of preferring this herb because our opponents claim it causes drug-like effects. (How would they know?) And yet, the conventional alternatives our doctors offer for our diagnoses are deadly, addictive opioid drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet, and Suboxone. The truth is, We are fighting NOT to be drugged up!

Talk about "the pot calling the kettle black!" What a cruel joke!

Here is what will probably be a typical account of why a mother takes kratom -- and what she has lost, due to this inconsiderate new law. All names have been changed to protect the victims:

Mary S.: "I am 35 years old and mother of 3. I have degenerative disc disease and a terrible ruptured disc in my lower back. I have tried pain blocks and pain pills, my only other option is surgery, which is not going to happen. I tried Kratom a year ago and it has helped me tremendously. I can function as a 35 year old should. I refuse to go to pain management or have surgery. I did my research on Kratom and ordered online from a reputable vendor. I am crushed that this bill has passed. I also have a condition called cyclic vomiting syndrome which is awful. I throw up every 15 minutes for days on end, nothing but stomach acid. I have to go to ER for fluids and IV nausea meds every time it happens. I never know when it will flare up but it is terrible. Kratom has also helped keep this condition at a minimum. No cure for it at all.

"So now back to chronic pain, no relief. Debilitating illness with no cure and not being able to be the mom, or wife I need to be."

Jane P.: "I also have degenerative disk disease...I was on pain killers and developed a pretty bad habit over time...I went to methadone to cure my habit and got addicted to that also...I was honestly fearing the day I would come off the high dose they had me on. I was terrified of it. I found kratom and decreased my methadone within one week...'til I am not even on it any longer. My biggest fear was withdrawal off the Satan's drug. I did it and was able to function normally with the help of kratom. Kratom does not get you really don't have a desire to get high. It helps with the pain physically and mentally. If I would have known Governor Bentley would sign a merit-less bill to avoid his impeachment, I would have ordered a lifetime supply no matter the risk. My physical and emotional well being is more important than this self serving government that we have at this time. Being without kratom is not an option for me. I am a single mother of 3 girls. I work multiple jobs...they cannot afford to have a mother legally addicted to any pain medicine...methadone literally made me feel like I was emotions sex happiness...just dead. Since I haven't had methadone and just take kratom I have all that back...I'm a better mother...employee...better person and my quality of life changed 100 percent. I am just disgusted that a Medical Doctor[Editor's Note: the Governor of Alabama is an MD] who took an oath would do this...but his character has been exposed anyway...oaths...vows...mean nothing to him."

Another gentleman spoke to me on the phone, with a different slant on what he sees happening. He told me that he had been helping heroin and pain pill addicts break those potentially fatal habits with kratom. Now, those friends will be going back to opioid drugs, which are easier to obtain on the streets and less expensive than what can be purchased by prescription, IF a prescription can even be obtained due to tighter DEA oversight of Medical Doctors.

Already, we have heard of one death of a recovering pain pill addict, since kratom was banned. Many more deaths can reasonably be expected, now that kratom is not readily available.

The aforementioned lifelong Alabama resident -- himself a chronic pain sufferer -- was recently driven by pain to purchase Lortabs on the street by this new law. This is one way honest citizens are misdirected by laws to break them.

If the purpose of SB226 was really "harm reduction" and preventing crime, you would think the State of Alabama might have benefited from the results Mike found, when he started using kratom:

"Since I've been using speciosa [kratom], I no longer have that urge to go chase drugs down on the street. This stuff isn't getting me high. I don't feel numb. I'm not falling out -- it just helps. My mood is lifted, I'm in very little pain, And the best of it all is my mind seems to be doing a lot better. I have a history of mental issues, and this stuff really puts me in a good mind set. I'm not saying its the best thing in the world but i haven't had any issues, Drugs Drama and trouble have all vanished in my life. This has really saved my life. I feel if not for speciosa, I would have been back in prison, or worse, dead. This stuff has really made us live life differently and for good. I've actually started to find religion again, I feel more peaceful as a person..."

Here's a report of the effects Mark S. will experience, now that he no long has access to the herbal supplement that helped him best:

"I have suffered with depression and anxiety related issues since I was a teenager. When I finally went to the doctor for the first time at age 18, he diagnosed me with Depression and Social Anxiety Disorder. The first thing the doctor did was put me on Paxil, the side effects from that put me in the hospital. So after that he put me on Zoloft, then Celexa, Effexor, Buspar and finally Amitriptyline. All of those were worthless in treating my symptoms. The depression made my quality of life so poor I didn’t want to live anymore and longed for some way to just die. So I did what I felt I had to in order to get relief and I turned to the whiskey bottle. This gave me relief from the depression but it made a different person. It makes a person unpredictable and causes a loss of control over oneself. For fourteen years I drank heavily, getting to the point to where I could drink a fifth of whiskey down in one sitting.

"Two years ago I started to learn about kratom and wanting a change in my life I decided to try it. The first time I tried it the effects were mild, but I felt the relaxation and an instant sense of well-being, a strong anti-depressant effect. Soon I found that two small doses a day kept my symptoms under control. Kratom gives me the relief that I had sought for nearly 20 years and unlike alcohol it leaves me clear headed and in control of myself. On May 10th, 2016 a bill was signed that made this miracle herb illegal, and that instantly made me a felon, despite the fact that otherwise I obey the law. That bill forced me to make a choice to either continue taking kratom to keep my mental health under control or to go back to a state of depression, anxiety, misery and ultimately back to alcohol. I have chosen to continue to take kratom despite this bill, because I refuse to go back into a life of misery. The kratom ban is an unjust law. The legislature can’t outlaw my depression; they can’t outlaw my anxiety so why should they be allowed to outlaw the only medicine that’s kept them under control? It’s amazing how things we know are dangerous like tobacco and alcohol can be sold in gas stations but something as benign as kratom, an herb nobody has died from when taken alone is the thing that is made a schedule 1 narcotic.

"It should be noted that a perfectly reasonable alternative was offered in place of the ban that would have regulated kratom in Alabama. The amendments were to make kratom age restricted to 21 years +, to ban “kratom-shots” in the gas stations in favor of online vendors who sell plain leaf, and to require vendors to properly label kratom products as such when sold in Alabama. This would have kept kratom off of gas station shelves [Editor's Note: Which is what the promoters originally said was their intention.] and out of the hands of kids, while leaving adults the option to choose kratom.

"Members of the Alabama House of Representatives tried to propose those very amendments but the supporters of the ban were crafty and kept the bill from being presented until after the Senate adjourned (it was a senate bill and the amendments would have had to be approved by them)they also would not allow several legislators to discuss the issue even though they had their lights on to speak. SB226 was pushed through to a vote without discussion and with strong opposition but still had enough votes to pass at that time. To me, it seems like if supporters of the ban have such a strong case for how bad kratom is then they shouldn’t have to try and silence the opposition. People only feel the need to silence the opposition when they know they are wrong. This ban needs to be repealed for the sake of the people of Alabama. People have already died as a result of this ban because it forced people back onto opiate drugs which really are dangerous. Many more people will die or suffer pain and misery until this bill is repealed and a more reasonable regulatory bill put in its place."

All these stories can be summarized like this: After years of suffering with conditions that had no cure, just drugs that didn't work well, the people of Alabama found a better solution -- kratom. Now that has been taken away and they face felony charges and long prison terms if they are merely found in possession of kratom.

You might think the state would be happy to be ridding itself of opioid dependence (and much more) with a much safer herb, but you'd be wrong.

To Get Involved in Reversing This Ban, Join the Facebook group American Coalition of Free Citizens

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