DEA Petitioned With Open-Records Request To Provide Details Of Ongoing "Shadow Campaign" Against The Botanical Kratom

Thursday, October 19, 2017 General News
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After Failure of 2016 Rush to Judgment Against Kratom, Federal Drug Agency Continues Its Stealth Campaign to Restrict Herb and to Manufacture a Case for Renewed Federal Action.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After seeing repeated signs of a "shadow campaign" by the Drug Enforcement

Administration (DEA) against the coffee-like herb kratom, the American Kratom Association (AKA) has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all records of kratom-related communications between the DEA and state lawmakers, local law enforcement officials, coroners and medical examiners.  The AKA's FOIA request is available online here:

Last week, the AKA released an October 12th report by a leading molecular biologist and lawyer showing that medical examiners and coroners in two New York and Florida deaths issued "mistaken, inaccurate, and now discredited reports" linking the deaths to the non-opioid, botanical kratom that has a long history of safe use by millions of consumers.  See:  

The AKA has reason to believe that the incorrectly attributed death reports are part of a larger behind-the-scenes push against kratom by the DEA in the wake of its decision last year to suspend an emergency scheduling push that would have effectively banned the legal botanical product.

Dave Herman, chair, board of directors, American Kratom Association, said: "The AKA's contention and concern here is simple: The DEA started its 'shadow campaign' to undermine kratom by falsely claiming kratom was responsible for various deaths in their August 31, 2016 Federal Register Notice for emergency scheduling of kratom.  The agency then compounded the massive campaign of misinformation in nationwide conference calls with law enforcement officials in communities across America that the DEA convened to justify their proposed 'emergency scheduling' of kratom.  Worse, despite receiving clear documentation that kratom had not caused a single death, they withdrew their scheduling order, but left their disinformation campaign intact.  To this day, we hear from local law enforcement officials that they are recommending banning kratom in their communities because of DEA briefings and the information they continue to receive from the DEA."

Herman added: "This underhanded and a 'back door' assault on kratom is having serious consequences for a legitimate U.S. industry, and it is robbing millions of consumers of the freedom to make their own informed decisions on how to select products to maintain their health and well-being."

The new FOIA filing by AKA reads in part:

"Despite the fact the DEA withdrew its notice to use emergency scheduling authority under the Controlled Substances Act (Titles II and III of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, as amended. 21 U.S.C. 801-971) to schedule the non-opioid, coffee-like botanical kratom as a Class I drug, available evidence suggests the DEA has undertaken a 'shadow campaign' to orchestrate hostility on the part of state and local law enforcement officials to deny consumer access to kratom products sold by manufacturers."

"Similarly, even though it did not proceed with a de facto national ban on kratom sales and use, the DEA does appear to be continuing to encourage (1) state and local level bans on kratom that make no sense whatsoever in the face of a federal failure to do the same, and (2) encourage highly suspect causes of death determinations by local coroners and medical examiners."

"The AKA is aware of a number of different ways that this possibly three-pronged 'shadow campaign' by the DEA against kratom is proceeding:"

"LAW ENFORCEMENT.  There are indications in the news media that the DEA undertook a 2016 campaign to brief local and state law enforcement officials on how to enforce the expected (but never enacted) federal scheduling of kratom.  This resulted in a wave of negative law enforcement statements to the public even after the DEA withdrew its emergency action notice in relation to kratom. Far from fading after the DEA withdrew its scheduling order on kratom, menacing and ill-informed law enforcement statements about kratom continue to crop up on a regular basis. There is no indication that the DEA took any step in the wake of its 2016 briefings with law enforcement officials to inform those law enforcement officials that the agency had elected not to act, and importantly, failed to communicate any of the information and data that led to the withdrawal of the Notice to schedule kratom."

"STATE LEGISLATIVE BANS.  The AKA has been active in recent years in opposing every state-level attempt to restrict or ban kratom.  In the process of doing so, the AKA and its representatives have been advised in more than one state that DEA officials are actively encouraging the state-level equivalent of the ban that they did not impose at the federal level.  In addition to its apparent direct efforts to encourage state-level bans, the DEA continues in its 2017 edition of 'Drugs of Abuse' to list kratom as an illicit substance that is claimed to have certain negative properties despite the evidence received by DEA that directly contradicts those conclusions. In fact, the agency conceded in 2016 that it may have misinterpreted safety data on kratom, and it is entirely misleading for the DEA to promote state level bans via this publication, which is frequently cited by state lawmakers as 'proof' of the need to curb kratom availability."

"CORONERS AND MEDICAL EXAMINERS.  Given that the DEA 'shadow campaign' against kratom extends to local law enforcement, state police, and state lawmakers, AKA is deeply concerned that the agency may also be seeking to encourage findings of kratom in death reports from coroners and medical examiners.  In two recent cases that have been debunked by AKA as 'kratom deaths,' there have been public reports of coordination between the two otherwise widely separated New York and Florida medical offices in question."

The AKA is seeking copies of all kratom-related communications between the DEA and law enforcement officials, coroners, medical examiners and state lawmakers.


The America Kratom Association, a consumer-based non-profit organization, is here to set the record straight, giving voice to those suffering and protecting our rights to possess and consume kratom. AKA represents tens of thousands of Americans, each of whom have a unique story to tell about the virtues of kratom and its positive effects on their lives.


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SOURCE American Kratom Association, Washington, DC

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