Last week, the Huffington Post published the article “Setting the Record Straight on ‘Synthetic Drugs’—and What we Should Do About Them.” Addressing alarmist media stories, the Post looks to address the knee jerk reactions to reporting on the dangers of synthetic drugs. What often goes unaddressed is that the current pattern of banning drugs has the unintended side effect of driving the creation of these new substances. The Drug Policy Alliance and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, organizations that both work toward ending the War on Drugs, seek to step in and clear up some of the confusion caused by these chemicals, while advocating for researching, (re-) legalizing, and regulating them.
This article emphasizes that rather than focus on public education or warnings, the typical knee-jerk reaction to some of the negative side effects is to ban these drugs outright. Banning “classics” like LSD, MDMA, marijuana, and other drugs is exactly what has spurred the creation of the “new” drugs now banned, and their prohibition will only cycle the process forward, as producers move to meet demand and evade the law. The fact that kratom has gotten tied up in a rush to ban “new” and “unknown” products is also addressed in detail:
Even psychoactive drugs long known to some cultures as medicine are getting caught up in this frenzy to ban. Kratom, a Southeast Asian plant and member of the coffee family, has been under misguided scrutiny after mixed user testimonials. The herb has been used for hundreds of years, mostly in Central and South Thailand, by day laborers who wanted pain relief without the dangerous and addictive consequences of opiates. Kratom has incorrectly and hysterically been lumped into the category of NPS and banned in Wisconsin, Indiana, Vermont, and Tennessee. Similar prohibition legislation has been introduced in three other states. The DEA recently put Kratom on their “drugs of concern” list, a preemptive action to the federal scheduling ban.
Banning the herb, which many use medicinally, is not only making naturopathic healthcare options less accessible to people trying to avoid addictive pharmaceutical drugs and law-breaking, but it’s also ignoring totally sensible alternatives to dealing with a so-called “new” substance. It would make far more sense to study Kratom, and other mysterious substances in a scientific setting and implement a system of regulation to ensure consumer safety.
Advocates like the Drug Policy Alliance and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition acknowledge that a change in how we address drug use will take time to fully bring about, so for now, please take note of the appropriate terms, encourage the people you know who use drugs to educate themselves about what they take (or may accidentally take), and help to be part of the solution.