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AbleU & Life of Kratom
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Opioid addiction, abuse, and overdose deaths have become the most pressing public health issue facing the United States. Ohio has the 4th highest overdose rate in America and leads the country in drug overdose deaths per capita, a rate that continues to rise, overwhelming families, communities, and local governments across the state.

From 2000 to 2017, Ohio’s death rate due to unintentional drug overdoses increased 1,081% (from 411 in 2000, to 4854 in 2017), and the increase in deaths has been driven primarily by opioid-related overdoses.

Understanding Opioid Addiction
Addiction is caused by changes to the brain’s memory, motivation, reward and impulse control systems – and it’s these changes that explain why people crave opioids for long after withdrawal symptoms dissipate, why people relapse back to use after long periods of abstinence and why people use heroin, even when they can see the tremendous damage it does to the body and mind.

What is Kratom?
Amidst this epidemic, hundreds of thousands of Americans have found relief from their addiction, in the form of a leaf that comes from a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family, native to Southeast Asia. Mitragyna speciosa (commonly known as kratom) is indigenous to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea, where it has been used in traditional medicines since at least the nineteenth century. Kratom has opioid properties and some stimulant-like effects, leading many to take it for managing chronic pain as well as for treating opioid withdrawal symptoms.

The Problem 
On Friday, April 12th 2019, The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy (BOP), pursuant to section 3719.44 of the Ohio Revised Code, is trying to place Kratom into the “Schedule I Controlled Substance” category, stating that it poses as great a risk to the public health of the citizens of this state, as opioids themselves. This change will be official on after April 30th 2019, if we the people do not stand together to prevent this from happening.

Why is the Ohio BOP trying to outlaw Kratom?
Here’s what we know:
The availability and popularity of Kratom has only risen in the U.S. over the past several years- therefore as of 2018, kratom's usefulness and safety as a therapeutic agent is scientifically unclear, as any research done on this organic substance has been deemed of poor quality. Furthermore, there have been no formal trials to study the efficacy or safety of kratom to treat opioid addiction.
While it is clear that Kratom still needs further study in a scientifically controlled environment- are we really willing to outlaw an organic substance that has helped hundreds of thousands of Americans struggling from addiction, and force them to endure the pain and/or addiction that led them to take solace in the Kratom leaf in the first place? Even worse, are we willing to force them to fall back into the arms of the substances that are killing our loved ones and fellow citizens faster than any other substance available today?

Let’s compare facts:
Kratom: Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration said that 44 deaths had been associated with Kratom. About 80% of the people in the CDC study who had kratom in their system had a history of substance misuse. Almost all of them also had other substances in their system. The other substances most commonly found were fentanyl, heroin, benzodiazepines (also known as tranquilizers), prescription opioids and cocaine. The number of people whose deaths were associated with kratom make up less than 1% of all overdose deaths.
Opioids: The opioid related death rate have surpassed that of motor vehicles deaths, homicide, AIDs and suicide. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total "economic burden" of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

Jack Smith, former NASCAR Driver and Kratom advocate, suffered a broken neck during a racing accident in 1999. He recovered from this injury but then re-injured himself again in 2007 when he was prescribed opiate medication to deal with the pain. Like so many of the stories we hear today, this sent Jack into the downward spiral that we have come to know as opioid addiction. This addiction cost Jack almost everything in the years following his injury, including his lucrative NASCAR contract. It wasn’t until years later when Jack was introduced to Kratom, that his life changed.

“The first time I tried Kratom, I wept like a little boy because it was the first time I had felt like myself since my accident”, says Jack. He has not taken a prescription pain killer since July 7th, 2010. Jack is so grateful for the leaf that saved his life, that in 2017 he founded Life of Kratom, a chain of Kratom retail stores in Central Ohio. “I’ve seen the transformation of thousands of clients that come back to me week after week for Kratom”, says Jack. “People rely on this leaf to maintain a normal quality of life, not to escape life like we normally see in people taking opioids”.

If Kratom is made a Schedule I drug, then Jack and his thousands of clients will unfortunately be faced with the choice between living in a state of un-relenting pain or going back to prescription medications that will likely reignite their chemical dependency on opioids.

Citizens of Ohio, it is time we ask ourselves these questions:

1. Is the Ohio BOP justified in making Kratom a Schedule I substance, classified with Opioids?
2. Are we willing to deprive our fellow citizens (battling pain and addiction), of a leaf that has been used medicinally for thousands of years around the world- just due to lack of research, when opioids killed more Americans last year than the Vietnam War?
3. Furthermore, are we willing to force these citizens to find refuge in the prescription medications that are the origin of our current state of national crisis?

Please sign our petition to SAVE KRATOM IN OHIO, and give us a fighting chance in this battle against the opioid crisis.



***For additional, science and data backed information on Kratom, please visit the American Kratom Association website, or view the links provided below:

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