Kratom vs. Oxycontin

This is the transcript of episode twelve of The LAVA Spurt podcast. You can listen to the audio of this Podcast episode here:



The DEA bans kratom as the FDA approves OxyContin for kids. Am I the only one that sees the hypocrisy of this? This is the twelfth episode of The LAVA Spurt, The Kratom vs. Oxycontin Edition.

The DEA recently added the herbal substance, kratom, to its schedule 1 list of drugs. Kratom is a plant from Southeast Asia that activates some of the same receptors as opioids but is far less dangerous.  Schedule 1 is generally reserved for the most dangerous drugs that have no medicinal benefit, although several of the drugs scheduled that way have shown to have medicinal benefits much to the chagrin of the DEA and the FDA. Schedule 1 includes drugs like heroin, ecstasy, LSD, peyote, and others. Why did they decide to schedule this plant the same way? As Tom Knapp said in a William Lloyd Garrison center article:

The agency offers numerous excuses — insufficient testing for the plant to have an approved medical use, its historical use as an opium substitute,  its increasing use “to self-treat chronic pain and opioid withdrawal symptoms, with users reporting its effects to be comparable to prescription opioids.” DEA says that last bit like it’s a bad thing. It isn’t. Pain relief is a GOOD thing.

And to go even further than Tom, at a time when the federal government is busting folks who are addicted to legal opioids in this country and the addition rate is being called a crisis, why is it also banning a substance that helps people withdraw from their addictions to legal drugs that can kill them and also helps with the reason they were on the heavy drugs in the first place?

The American Kratom Association

Susan Ash, the founder and director of the American Kratom Association, an advocacy group that works to keep the substance legal, used kratom to wean herself off opiates to treat the chronic pain she attributes to Lyme disease. She still takes kratom every day to help control her pain.

“This just ripped my quality of life right out from under me,” she said. “This is the plant that returned me to being a productive member of society, and I truly fear for my future, and I fear for all of the people who found kratom to be a solution for them to get off things like heroin. I foresee a large jump in the already epidemic proportions of opiate deaths in this country.”

Ash and other kratom advocates insist that the substance is no more addictive than coffee, and that as long as it is unadulterated, it is safe for adults to consume. They claim that it is impossible to overdose because consuming too much kratom will make you throw up.

The CDC has reported in July that kratom can be abused and that poison control centers have received over 660 calls between 2010 and 2015 regarding kratom intoxication. This report has been criticized as being relatively inconsequential given the small number of cases when compared with other legal and illegal intoxicants. In some cases listed as kratom intoxication, other illicit drugs were taken by the individuals. There is no evidence that anyone has been harmed by kratom at all.

OxyContin for kids?

While the DEA is banning substances that can actually help people with chronic pain and help wean them off of harsher, more dangerous drugs, the FDA has approved the narcotic painkiller OxyContin for pediatric use. The agency reported the drug is safe for children as young as 11 years old who have chronic pain.

But the very fact that pediatricians are prescribing the drug to children is troubling to some experts, since rates of opioid addiction are on the rise, especially in young people. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 2.1 million Americans are struggling with an addiction to prescription painkillers. Abusing this class of drugs is often a precursor to heroin addiction.

So, on one hand, we have the federal government saying that the powerful and deadly narcotic OxyContin is safe for young children, a drug that is at the core of the opioid addiction crisis in this country, while on the other hand that same government is saying that a plant that can also alleviate pain and has the side-effect of helping wean people off of the powerful and dangerous narcotic and has never been proven to harm anyone is too dangerous for people to decide if they can use them? What the actual fuck?

Cronyism at its best

It’s pretty clear what the issue is here. OxyContin is developed and sold by a major pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma, that has given nearly $2 million directly to political candidates over the last 15 years and gave almost three-quarters of a million dollars in lobbying last year alone. Kratom is a natural substance that no one company has control of, let alone a company with the billions that Purdue Pharma has to throw around Washington. This is clearly cronyism at its best, folks. This is politicians and bureaucrats scratching the backs of people who are funding their campaigns and cutting out a product that can actually reduce dependency on the politician’s campaign funding giant’s product. Many people point to money in politics as the issue, or big pharma as the issue, or any number of symptoms. But, these are only the symptoms of the problem. The problem, the cancer, is the power that our politicians have to control every aspect of your life and every aspect of the economy with arbitrary regulations by government organizations that cannot be help accountable by the people. Remove that cancer and all of the symptoms go away.

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Until next time… keep striking the root!

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Rodger Paxton
Rodger Paxton
Rodger, who runs the LAVA Flow Podcast, is a long-time libertarian activist and former Chairman and Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas. Rodger and his wife Jessica are Free State Project movers who unschool their children at home.
  • Brittany Jordan

    Thank you for this! Kratom saved my life and so many people I know


    ”Remove that cancer and all of the symptoms go away”. And just how in the hell are we really supposed to do this if we really DONT have any power? Seems like logic is starting to show up about the reality of this ban actually going to happen. ”Its a big fucking club, and you and I are not in it.”- George Carlin

  • shelley

    It is so blatantly obvious with this Kratom ban by the DEA, who also just recently decided NOT to reclassify marijuana as well, that there is something rotten going on, and that the pharmaceutical companies are being given a gift, intended to keep Kratom from diminishing their profits. I’m sure they are developing a pill as we speak that contains Kratom’s alkaloids. I think the outcome of this Kratom ban is largely going to be more distrust of government. How can we take anything they do seriously and without question now that we have been shown that its all only about enriching corporations, and that in reality government has little concern over our health and well being. And while we are at it, why does the DEA have this power to reclassify a drug without congress, or without scientific proof of their claims. Remember, this is also the same agency that blatantly ignored and violated a presidential order to stop raiding California’s medical marijuana dispensaries. Big thought the president was their boss and that to defy a presidential order was treasonous. They are also the only agency that can access the NSA’s information without a warrant. This agency needs to be reigned in. Something is starting to really stinking in America today, and the DEA is generating a lot of that stench.

  • Defected