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Legislative Update: By Mac Haddow, Senior Fellow on Public Policy
I am writing today to warn every kratom advocate about a serious threat to the momentum we have built over the past several months that has led to overwhelming support in the passage of the Kratom Consumer Protection Act in Utah, Georgia, and Arizona – and we expect several other states will approve this important legislation in the next several weeks.
The American Kratom Association (AKA) is the leading kratom consumer advocacy group in America, and you can be assured that the only agenda we have is to protect and preserve your freedom to use pure and natural kratom for your health and well-being. When you sign up to support the AKA, your name and contact information is not sold or given to any commercial kratom vendor, and every dollar that is raised is invested in the science and advocacy work the AKA uses to promote our core message.
A new group has emerged that calls themselves the Kratom Information & Resource Center.
In my opinion, the better name you can give to this new group is TROUBLE!
I personally am a strong believer in free speech, and I normally would welcome any positive input from supporters in the kratom community. But I have to draw the line when the purpose for the creation of this new group, and the strategy they are using, threatens not only the work we have done up until now but also makes our advocacy efforts going forward infinitely more difficult.
This new group wants kratom advocates to sign a petition that will be sent to leading news organizations to decry the unfair coverage on kratom. This new group wants to poke the beast in the eye despite the fact the media can bury us with an avalanche of negative news stories that will make our advocacy work far more difficult, if not impossible.
It looks like the group is more interested in building a mailing list of kratom supporters than in moving the needle on important policy changes that need to be made in the way kratom is regulated at both the federal and state level. It is not clear whether getting people to sign their petition to build a mailing list will be given to a kratom vendor, or just to raise money to pay for their media consultants. No one knows because this new group does not say.
When you sign a petition for the AKA, you can take it to the bank that your name is never handed over or sold to any kratom vendor or to benefit the private business enterprise of any AKA official, and your contact information is only used to communicate with you on advocacy and to ask for donations to help fund the science and advocacy efforts needed to protect the legality of kratom.
I have travelled to nearly 25 states this year to talk with Legislators about kratom, its safety profile, how it is consumed, and how it has changed the lives of those who use it regularly, particularly to manage pain when the only alternatives are highly addictive and potentially deadly opioids. The two most persuasive arguments I have found that resonate with these legislators is that the FDA is trying to expand its regulatory powers, and the news media is unfairly biased to the FDA.
The same is true in most of the federal offices I visit.
Anyone involved in the political world views the media as the enemy, and they understand that the media is biased and unfair in their coverage of kratom. On top of that, the FDA has a taxpayer-funded multi-million-dollar public affairs team that can overwhelm us in press coverage. This new group could not raise enough money to move the needle one bit in the face of that overwhelming obstacle at the FDA.
Worse, if this new group really tries to match dollar-for-dollar the media war, it will not change one public policy, will not enact one new law, and it will only bleed limited resources in the kratom community away from legitimate and proven lobbying efforts where we are making real, measurable progress.
All of us would like to see more positive news stories about kratom. All of us would welcome a fair and balanced approach by the news media.
I personally would have liked an FDA Commissioner who listened to the science and supported consumer freedoms, but I would have a better chance of the Easter Bunny being real.
This new group claims that “most individuals associated with the Kratom Information & Resource Center were involved in the successful 2016 campaign to stop the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s push to schedule kratom as an illegal drug.”
Who exactly are these people?
I was working the halls of the Congress and the Executive Branch on this issue in 2016, and there were very few of us back then who were on the front lines. Those who were involved then have mostly moved on to affiliate with kratom vendors and would not have much credibility as honest advocacy brokers in this effort.
And the new group expresses a commitment to “promoting transparency,” but then promises only to disclose funding sources on an “annual basis.” So, if this is a vendor-funded initiative that would have access to the names of anyone who signs a petition that they could use for sales, you won’t know it until a year from now.
Big PhRMA uses similar tactics by funding shill groups that claim to be consumer or patient advocates, but then the media has a field day exposing them as “Astroturf” (also known as fake) advocacy organizations funded by drug companies.
Those disclosures completely undermine their credibility with Congress, the Executive Branch, and state legislators.
And if this new group just wants your name to then turn around and ask for donations, that limits the money that could be used for effective lobbying and scientific research that delivers a measurable result.
That’s why, in my opinion, you can call this new group “TROUBLE!”
I will give you one last reason to send this new group’s petition appeal straight to your trash folder.
The AKA has built relationships with a core group of highly-credible scientists to be effective advocates, and to fund specific scientific research. This new group lists many of these scientists as though they have some relationship with them and is directing media inquiries to them under the guise of the news media having been grossly unfair in their coverage of kratom. I have spoken with several of these scientists that are listed, and they were not contacted or informed their names would be listed on this new group’s website.
That is both unfair to those scientists and adds another layer of trouble for future efforts when those scientists are needed to protect consumer access to kratom.
I urge every kratom advocate to ignore any plea from the Kratom Information & Resource Center until you are told more about who is really behind the group, who really is benefitting, and why they are embarking on the strategy that will undermine legitimate advocacy activities with policy makers.
Thanks for all of your support for our success in passing the Kratom Consumer Protection Act and our ongoing efforts in more states in the coming months.
With my deepest respect,
American Kratom Association
5501 Merchants View Square #202
Haymarket, VA 20169
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