Back in July 2020, Nevada’s Board of Pharmacy (BOP) proposed classifying kratom as a Schedule I substance, which would ban the plant statewide.
For many, the news came as a shock. Having passed a version of the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA) in 2019, Nevada had already demonstrated a commitment to supporting safe access to kratom. The news also set a dangerous precedent, signaling that the KCPA might not protect kratom from future state bans.
His take? Nevada’s BOP has “no authority” over kratom, and therefore no grounds to ban the plant.
“First, the original bill included the language for the Board of Pharmacy being the regulatory agency, and it was the legislature that stripped that out,” Haddow said. “And so anyone who believed that there was an intent that the BOP would have any role whatever in the KCPA’s regulatory framework in Nevada, was simply wrong.”
For Haddow, Nevada’s BOP kratom ban also won’t fly because it miscategorizes kratom. “We don’t like the BOP because it’s the wrong place for kratom. Kratom is not a drug. That’s what BOPs regulate. It is a food, and it is properly classified in that regard.” Haddow went on to explain that the “food product” classification includes other plant-derived products with psychoactive properties, such as coffee.
Haddow also noted that the Nevada ban is being motivated by unsupported claims from medical examiners, law enforcement, and drug advocacy groups.
“The first input was a claim made by the medical examiners and coroners that there were multiple deaths that were associated with kratom. I have asked for, and they have promised that they will send me all of the input, but upon that inquiry, they acknowledged that, in fact, there was no data nor representation in the end from the coroners that these were kratom-only deaths.” For Haddow, the distinction between kratom-associated and kratom-only deaths is crucial. Often, alleged “kratom deaths” are attributable to other drugs found in an individual’s blood, many of which can be much deadlier than kratom.
“[When] a person is currently experiencing an addiction-level consumption of an opioid and they’re using kratom appropriately to try and wean off that addiction … it would not be the least bit surprising that at the time of their death … they might also have kratom in their system,” Haddow said.
For now, no BOP members have expressed interest in expediting kratom scheduling, a process that usually “takes about two years,” according to Haddow. During those two years, the AKA will be able to participate in the public hearing process and challenge inaccurate representations of kratom.
“We’re going to clarify this issue for the BOP so that there is certainly no doubt,” said Haddow. “In the particular case of Nevada, we’re going to have a prescriptive provision hopefully amended to that bill that simply says that the BOP has no authority in this area over kratom because it is a food.”