December 3, 2020

What the Biden Inauguration Could Mean for Kratom

The American Kratom Association (AKA) — a pro-kratom consumer rights organization — recently hosted a live video event called "Giving Tuesday." During the event, the AKA's Senior Fellow on Public Policy, Mac Haddow, revealed how the Biden administration's entrance might affect their advocacy efforts.

According to Haddow, the first change following President-elect Biden's inauguration would be a newly-appointed FDA commissioner. Some kratom users might recall that previous FDA commissioners have taken a strict stance on the plant. Most notably, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb labelled kratom "an opioid" and called for a ban.

But Haddow seems to believe that Biden's inauguration could be a boon to pro-kratom policy efforts in the US. Specifically, the appointment of a new FDA commissioner could improve their communication with top-level government officials. "During the visits that [the FDA commissioner nominee] makes to those senate offices, we'll have the opportunity for those senators to say, "what's the FDA's position on kratom, and why are they prosecuting this case when the science doesn't support it?" said Haddow. "We'll have teed up a number of questions available for those senators to ask to communicate to the incoming FDA commissioner that there's a problem."

Haddow also suggested that the AKA would focus on alerting the Biden administration to the FDA's missteps. "We also will have the opportunity with an incoming president to launch an educational campaign and a petition drive that will inform the White House about the problems that the FDA has created."

Finally, Haddow's AKA wants to convey to the White House that kratom's policy landscape mirrors that of another plant-derived substance, cannabidiol (CBD). "[FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn] said it would be a fool's errand for the FDA to try to ban CBD because it is sold everywhere," said Haddow. "His point was we should regulate it appropriately to make sure that the CBD is of good quality, and that it's safe, and we should allow consumers and educate them to make an educated and informed decision. That's what we want for kratom. We need to explain to the incoming FDA Commissioner that that's exactly the policy landscape that exists for kratom, and that they should follow suit."

As far as changes in Congress that could affect kratom's legality, Haddow seems optimistic. "It won't make a lot of difference from a partisan basis as to who's in control, in terms of the political party, as much as it will to add to those people that are more informed about kratom and its benefits, so that they can push back against the FDA," said Haddow. "I'm very encouraged with the look of the new House of Representatives, and on the Senate side, we still have to see if it will tip one way or another. But we have some strong advocates. And I can tell you that Senator Loeffler, who is in the runoff election, and Senator Perdue, have both committed to support us with the Kratom Consumer Protection Act. So personally, I hope they win down there."

You can watch the AKA's Giving Tuesday live video in its entirety on the group's Facebook page.

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