To the surprise of many, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced last week that kratom – a tree indigenous to Southeast Asia that has been used in many countries for hundreds of years, and has been gaining popularity in the U.S. – will soon be made illegal. It will be placed as a Schedule 1 drug, indicating that it’s one of the most dangerous substances on the planet; this will put it alongside substances such as heroin and cannabis.
Although on the surface one may wonder why the DEA would make this decision – to outlaw another natural substance – when looking a little deeper, it becomes painfully clear: The DEA is establishing another prohibition to help ensure its continued existence once cannabis is inevitably legalized.
Recently the DEA announced that after a “thorough” review, they’re retaining cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, indicating it has no medical value (ignoring dozens of peer-reviewed studies), and is as dangerous as heroin. Despite a public outcry to make a change, the DEA refused to do so, choosing instead to latch on to a complete prohibition (including proper research) that has enriched them as an entity.
Despite this decision, it may not be their choice for long; Hillary Clinton, the likely next president (according to most – but not all – recent polling), has said that if elected she will reschedule cannabis. Whether or not she follows through with this, the DEA is fighting a losing battle, and they know it; in just a couple months the U.S. may go from having four legal cannabis states, to nine, and it’s already the case that over half of the country has passed some form of medical cannabis legalization. And despite decades of propaganda, public support for legalization continues to climb rapidly, with support well over 50% in all major polls.
In other words, legalization is inevitable; it’s only a matter of time. Even prohibitionists are starting to see this.
The DEA knows that the popularity of kratom has skyrocketed in recent years. This is for a number of reasons, but a lot of it has to do with it’s usefulness in helping those recovering from addiction to opioids, which has become a public health crisis. For many people, Kratom is also seen as a legal alternative to cannabis, and a safer alternative to other drugs such as heroin.
Due to this popularity, the DEA knows that making it suddenly illegal will undoubtedly create a black-market demand for it. The substance isn’t going to vanish, it will simply be sold by criminals and criminal organizations (or people who are otherwise law-abiding citizen who sees a far-to-tempting means of making money), rather than headshops and online stores.
This new black-market gives the DEA a new beast to fight, and a new group of people to attack. They can now demand the government give them extra resources to fight back this illegal market, and to go after those who dare to continue using a substance they’ve used legally for years.
The DEA will make billions, and best of all for them, this is money they will continue to earn even when cannabis is legalized.
Those sneaky, weasily little devils.