What part of, “Kratom is NOT a synthetic!” can’t lawmakers in the U.S. understand? In state after state, kratom is being approached as something that must be banned, even though millions of citizens are benefiting from it. (And prohibitions never work.) More accurate thinking on this issue is needed.

Kratom is a leaf off a tree, usually ground into powder, and made into a tea or encapsulated. It has been used with amazing safety for at least 200 years for a wide variety of medical conditions, including diabetes, diarrhea, fever, coughs, generalized aches and pains, and opioid withdrawal. Kratom tea is widely sold in Malaysia as a caffeine-free stimulant drink.

And yet our legislators fall back on the tired excuse the DEA and FDA rely on: “There is no established medical use for kratom.” This is only because the pharmaceutical companies have never decided — for whatever unknown reason — to make a synthetic drug out of this complex herb. (Funny that we accuse kratom of being synthetic, though it is not, but — to be accepted as legit — it must be turned into a synthetic, manmade drug.) Go figure!

Lawmakers, such as Representative Kristin Jacobs of Florida, have the financial support of the medical community, whose bread-and-butter products are all synthetic drugs, so it is not surprising to see them relentlessly attack this harmless botanical competitor.

Likewise, the drug rehab industry of South Florida doesn’t appreciate the do-it-yourself, at home, convenience of using kratom to ease withdrawal pains and avoid their expensive services. The drug rehab industry is another business competitor that is often seen protesting this money-saving herbal product. We see this clearly in the state of New Jersey, as well, where a pain clinic doctor has goaded a friendly Assemblyman into pushing for a kratom ban.

I can’t help but view this as a battle over commercial revenue, using the police power of the states to chase a more effective, D-I-Y remedy off the market. Florida appears to be wisely reluctant to penalize those in pain for using an herbal, rather than a synthetic remedy. Harm reduction and savings to the taxpayers should be a primary concern of regulators. An age-limitation and some public education could correct the small degree of misuse we’re seeing of this benign herb.