Seeing Flakka As the Predictable Consequence of Banning Marijuana
Please Note: This is my own personal opinion and is not an official position of the American Kratom Association.
By banning marijuana 78 years ago, consequences are showing up today in the form of really dangerous drugs like Flakka. Kratom, which is nothing like marijuana in its effects, is also threatened with a ban because of confusion in the minds of many police and lawmakers over the small possibility that some may be adulterated, with chemicals like Flakka, just to slip it by the eyes of the law.
Some, at the FDA and elsewhere, also fret that kratom is habit-forming -- Oooooh! -- just like it's dangerous relative, the coffee bean!
The confusion over the true nature of kratom has sprung up due to the repeated reference to inaccurate talking points published by the FDA and DEA and repeated by newscasters, who do no independent fact-checking to determine if they are true.
I have discussed some of the laughable exaggerations and false claims made by the FDA/DEA here.
There is a simple solution to this complex problem: Cut it off at the root. Reverse the ban on cannabis, let kratom be itself, and prosecute those who sell adulterated kratom.
So simple; no need for new laws, except to erase the law banning cannabis.
This blog is not intended to be a promotion of cannabis/marijuana. I write this to illustrate the dangers of banning a known substance that humanity has been using for thousands of years, both as a medicine and an intoxicant. We know what to expect. There are no toxic, nasty surprises lurking within an herb that has grown up with humanity. In many ways cannabis is safer and less-toxic than our politically-approved drug, alcohol.
Kratom, though it is very different in its effects, falls into a similar category after daily use by millions of people and considerable medical and sociological studies. It is a "known quantity", if anyone cares to read up on what has been written about it in cultures where it has been used for centuries.
My point is, prohibitions on natural herbs just drive people to find new outlets for the desire to occasionally alter their state of mind. Take away this freedom and people find more devious and dangerous ways to get "high". And truly disastrous drugs like Flakka are the nightmare consequence of a simple mistake made to demonize marijuana (as a way to repress Mexicans and Blacks who have long had this herb as a part of their culture), created the conditions that spawned the monster, Flakka.
Flakka seems to appeal disproportionately to the poor and poorly-educated. It's a matter of basic Economics 101: when you make an herb (that anyone could grow) rare and hard-to-get, it drives the price up, which drives the poor to cheaper and often inferior substances. Enter Flakka, from mainland China.
Kratom is also affected by the ban on cannabis, because to get people to try it and continue to buy it, some sellers promise that it is a "legal high", even though real kratom can hardly be called a high. This, again, is a consequence of banning what the public really wanted in the first place, good ol' cannabis.
So, some kratom marketers -- a few of whom were originally Spice merchants -- decided to beef up kratom with synthetic chemicals to justify the claim of being a legal high. This was illegal, as it should be. People need to know what's in whatever they're taking.
Fortunately, spiking kratom with synthetic drugs is very rare. (I have never run into any of it in several years of trying many brands, but none from smokeshops). I recently talked with a major supplier of smokeshops and asked him about this. He said his impression is that adulterated kratom is very rare -- even most packets labeled "legal high" are usually NOT adulterated.
"We Just Don't Know Enough About Kratom," Say Regulators
Those of us who are surrounded by others whose lives have been saved by kratom find it hard to believe the determination of lawmakers like State of Florida Representative Kristin Jacobs to ban this natural botanical. Jacobs is quick to blame kratom for 2 or 3 deaths that obviously had other factors involved.
Jacobs ignores the time-proven principle that prohibitions don't work. Even in the most tightly regulated communities (prisons) drugs are MORE plentiful than on the street. (I confirmed this by talking to a couple prison guards.) How does that happen? Corruption. Is that what the people of Florida want their tax money spent on? More police corruption, with no real lessening of the prevalence of drugs in society?
As I have pointed out in my investigations into the flawed studies that attempt to insinuate that kratom is a bad plant, finding one or two people (with unknown medical history) who have claimed they have been harmed by kratom proves very little. We need to look at the Big Picture -- How many people beneficially use the substance, compared to those who allow themselves to abuse it.
If kratom is shown to harm a few people in generally non-fatal ways, what shall we do about the more than 480,000 Americans who die each year from FDA-regulated tobacco products? Or the 100,000+ who die from FDA-approved drugs?
Known killers -- Alcohol and Tobacco -- get a free pass because they can easily afford to pay big taxes and fines. (Regulators LIKE big tax revenues -- They mean raises and lavish budgets for people like themselves.) Herbs, like kratom -- that are relatively inexpensive -- are threatened with outright bans because regulators say they haven't seen sufficient proof that they wouldn't harm people. Savings for society, made possible by kratom, get no respect because they don't benefit the budgets of regulatory agencies. It's a sad fact of political life.
Didn't marijuana have similar arguments launched against it? They said it would make a whole generation of pot smokers insane or, at least, slow-witted. If it did cause insanity, that didn't stop several pot-smokers from winning the office of President and ruling the most powerful nation in the world.
And so, in summary, the ban on cannabis has produced many problems and solved none. A few states that recognized the need for safe ways for citizens to take their mind off their cares, aches, and pains, are profiting by permitting citizens to grow marijuana for personal use. This reduced the opioid overdose rate in Colorado by 25% in the first year since legalization. Is there any sign of a Flakka epidemic in Colorado? I doubt it!
Floridians should use discretion when faced with spurious accusations concerning the purported dangers of kratom. What's next, we might ask ourselves? A ban on coffee-drinking?
It is ironic that when natural plants like marijuana and kratom are available to citizens, they cause no deaths and little social disturbance at all. When these naturally-occurring herbs are banned, all of a sudden we are facing a nonstop parade of new, worse illicit synthetics, such as bath salts, K2, and Spice, and now, Flakka, which are causing both casualties and fatalities. This should tell regulators all they need to know about the folly of banning nature, while a limitless flood of unnatural drugs spring up to replace the natural, safe, and proven remedies.
The lesson lawmakers should take from the failures of the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and marijuana more recently, is that Prohibitions Don't Work. To stop the Flakka epidemic and other drug crazes in the future, remove the prohibition that set them in motion in the first place.
About 58% of American voters have decided that cannabis is no big deal and should be legal. Soon, a majority of voters will find the same is true of kratom, which is legal in 46 states and should be legal in all 50. Then, truly evil substances like Flakka will be driven from the market as the public chooses healthier options.
Learn more about the dangers of Prohibitions at LEAP.CC
Help Change the Laws Against Cannabis in Florida at RegulateFlorida.org
Help KeepKratomLegal: AmericanKratom.org