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October 08, 2021

WHO Kratom Ban 2021 Updates

There’s been very little kratom news in the last month. However, on Thursday, October 7th, 2021, the American Kratom Association broke the silence.

During a Facebook webinar, the pro-kratom consumer rights organization revealed new information about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) upcoming kratom review session — the outcome of which could result in a global kratom ban.

Will Kratom Be Banned?

According to American Kratom Association representative Mac Haddow, one of three things could happen after the WHO Expert Committee review session concludes late next week.

If the Committee finds sufficient evidence to support a ban, they’ll send a kratom scheduling recommendation to the United Nations (UN) Commission of Narcotic Drugs. The UN describes this Commission as an international “policymaking body,” so this outcome could severely hinder kratom’s global legality. However, Haddow feels that this scenario is unlikely: “We know that the scientists that have been selected are going to be able to provide a persuasive case that the scientific evidence does not justify that conclusion,” he said during Thursday’s webinar.

The second possibility is that the WHO Expert Committee enters a kratom “pre-review” period. Haddow noted that this would be “the worst case scenario,” since the WHO would hire outside researchers to determine if kratom should be scheduled under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971.

What’s “more likely,” according to Haddow, is that the WHO Expert Committee will find insufficient evidence for a kratom scheduling recommendation. They would then continue monitoring kratom’s global health effects and could later enter a “critical review” period. But rather than starting that process with zeal and urgency, the WHO would begin it with skepticism.

Why This Ban Effort Matters

Some outspoken kratom community members have trivialized the WHO kratom review session. They believe its outcome won’t matter because the WHO has no legislative authority in the United States or elsewhere. While this is true for the WHO, the UN does have legislative authority over member states. And so if the UN was convinced of a kratom ban, UN member states would be obligated to ban kratom under “treaty obligation.”

For evidence of the UN’s legislative power, recall that the United States based its Controlled Substances Act of 1970 on the UN’s 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to fulfill treaty obligations. Additionally, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime works with member states to ensure compliance with the convention.

WHO Kratom Review: Who’s Attending?

As of now, the exact attendees of Monday’s WHO kratom review session are unknown. However, American Kratom Association representative Mac Haddow did confirm that several notable pro-kratom figures would be attending.

In addition to himself, Haddow identified Dr. Christopher McCurdy, a prolific kratom researcher at the University of Florida, addiction expert Jack Henningfield of PinneyAssociates, and toxicologist “Marilyn Eustace” as attendees who will testify during Monday’s session.

Science is On Their Side

Despite the looming threat to kratom’s global legality, American Kratom Association representative Mac Haddow believes the science is on their side.

“Science is powerful,” Haddow said during Thursday’s webinar. He referenced an eight-factor analysis written by addiction expert Jack Henningfield, who recently updated the document with an additional one-hundred supporting studies.

For more proof of kratom’s utility and safety, the American Kratom Association has also conducted their own unpublished, upcoming study. It compares kratom to oxycodone, a powerful opioid drug, and found kratom produced “… no [animal] deaths and no significant respiratory suppression” at “… hundreds of times the dose level that a human could consume,” according to Haddow.

“The data will blow [the WHO] away,” Haddow said. “… It is powerful, and when it’s published after it’s been peer-reviewed, it will be a document that will [make it] virtually impossible for anyone to argue that kratom is unsafe for human consumption.”

You can watch the American Kratom Association’s October 7th, 2021 webinar in its entirety here.

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