I wrote this article, The Small Vendor Import Situation, with a lack of sensitivity and I apologize. It was written with good intentions, hoping to quell some fears about importing Kratom, and independent of my role as President of the American Kratom Association (AKA). Susan Ash, Director of the AKA, did not see it before it was published.
I was speaking as a past owner of several small businesses, trained by the State of Oregon and U.S. Department of Commerce, with ten years' experience as a consultant. Keeping Kratom legal has become my life's work and while I'm an expert in small business, and a consumer advocate, I'm not an expert in importing Kratom. I gave advice based on my business experience and made observations on some things I believe allow vendors to weather Kratom "shipping storms." At least that's what I'd set out to do.
What I was saying (to small and newer vendors):
- It is wise to save money, often earned very quickly, to afford the services of some necessary professionals.
- I fear practices employed by some are making it difficult for all. My intention is to help ALL Kratom vendors by enlarging the population of Kratom consumers.
- I was sharing some of the techniques I've seen savvy operators use, so that everyone can have equal advantage.
- Please pay close attention to the language used to describe and discuss your products on Websites and, in particular, social media.
Aftermath - The Conspiracies!
Unfortunately, conspiracy theories were given a lot of attention following this article and it took away from our focus: access to Kratom for all. This is a secretive industry, but I, personally, have seen no evidence of any conspiracy -- like that of a few large vendors attempting to shut down the ports to all Kratom but their own. Inconceivable.
Show me proof, however, and I'm willing to entertain discussion (and maybe even write about it!).
One theory really bothered me -- that I, and by inference, Susan Ash and the AKA are hiding an imminent shut-down, trying to "sweep the import problem under the rug," to the benefit of certain vendors. We have no hidden agendas, we do have an import problem and we're very vocal about it. FDA Import Alert 54-15, has been in effect since February, 2014, with new U.S. vendors being added to this "red list" regularly. The AKA team discusses this every day, trying to help put the pieces of a puzzling trend together, explaining what we THINK might be happening and discussing potential strategies. In fact, the AKA is gearing up for an advocacy campaign to address the import alert specifically, so stay tuned!
What's really going on?
The AKA still believes we are far from a shut-down or crisis situation. We THINK a major root of the current problem, aside from the fatal flaw of making medicinal claims, lies with the way Kratom is being labeled and sold - not matching how it's imported to how it's sold and/or talked about, on websites and social media. (We can't advise on this, not because we're withholding information, but as consumers, we simply don't know).
So, what WAS my point?
- I am optimistic we can keep Kratom legal; but,
- vendors would be wise to invest in needed experts and plans to upgrade their facilities to current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs), just as other herbal products suppliers do.
I can't control or change the FDA's policies. Some of what they require is important and critical: a good, clean, germ-free product, sanitary packaging facilities, safe, heat-sealed packaging, good record-keeping (what the FDA calls cGMPs), and product testing to assure safety and efficacy.
There are big expenses in this high-risk business and more coming. Be prepared. Think about forming a co-op or vendors' alliance to share the costs. Don't invite the FDA to shut you down."
It is my belief that now is the time to take these steps to prepare for the happy day when all these import problems are over.