The drug fiend is inexorably trapped. The strength of the addictive nature of the dangerous drug he has succumbed to has not only warped his mind and extinguished any sense of morality or right and wrong, it has left him a ferocious, murdering machine. His weapon? An axe. His victims, the entirety of his family including mother, father and siblings aged 8 to 22. The cause? A dangerous drug that has recently been making the rounds of headline after headline. Another man, attempting to kill his wife in the midst of dangerous delusion, misses killing his grandmother. Afterwards he turns the gun on himself. A “degenerate” brutally attacks a 10 year old girl under the influence. The drug has twisted his mind so fully that he receives an insanity plea.
No, it’s not the latest “bath salt craze” nor some dangerous mish-mash of chemical analogues from some oversight free lab in China. These are actual claims made about marijuana during the height of the “reefer madness” craze. A similar situation, possibly with similar root causes, exists today with a similarly benign, and in fact fairly beneficial plant panacea whose constituents and effects may threaten large industries with ample lobbyist protection.
In the case of marijuana, much of the public outcry generated was based on false reports of outrageous scenarios of violence, madness and criminality. No sooner had the prohibitionists lost the “war on alcohol” (which resulted in the birth of much of the 20th century’s organized crime syndicates) than they attached their ire to a new substance. Much has been written about the many causes for the anti-cannabis prohibitionists’ propaganda. At least in part it was due to the fact that media mogul, William Randolph Hearst owned a horizontal monopoly on the “pulp” trade. From sawmill to slurry to tabloid trash, Hearst had a hand in the paper trade and oil industries which would have been threatened by hemp and cannabis.
Hearst was famed for twisting the news to serve his purposes. Citizen Kane was a mock-biography of the “puppetmaster of the papers.” A reference to Hearst papers’ involvement in Cuba in Kane is telling. A journalist assigned to “scare up a story” wires a telegram to Kane: “Girls delightful in Cuba. Stop. Could send you prose poems about scenery but don’t feel right spending your money. Stop. There is no war in Cuba, signed Wheeler.” Kane’s reply: “You provide the prose poems, I’ll provide the war.”
Hearst, Anslinger, Bernays, Ivy Lee and others were responsible for setting up the type of tabloid style sensationalism and spin that haunts the journalistic profession to this day. The system of “press release news” is a crutch for journalists who aren’t interested in fact checking or sussing out stories on their own. The problem, however, is the opening it leaves for powerful interests and their PR and lobbying firms to influence the coverage of the news.
A recent case would be that of the revamped version of the “Reefer madness” craze. Increasingly over the last decade, we have been entering the age of “Kratom Madness.” Despite ample support from several research scientists who believe we are just at the tip of the iceberg as far as determining the uses (medicinal, nutritive and more) and benefits of coffee’s cousin, Mitragyna speciosa, better known in the US as kratom.
In the midst of what is touted as an opioid epidemic is occurring. This is only partially due to traditional causes for drug abuse. This drug crisis is a new one and the dangers inherent could do harm not only to chronic pain patients (who are often treated as drug seekers or criminals) but everyone who is affected by this situation. Despite this, the DEA has been attempting to convince the public that a plant chock full of b-vitamins, greater antioxidant potential than green tea, immunostimulant and adaptogenic, anxiety relieving, pain killing and mood lifting with anti-
microbial as well as anti-cancer and anti-mutagenic properties is as much a “threat to public health” as heroin and more so than methamphetamine and cocaine (which are scheduled as highly addictive but at least possessing some medicinal benefit).
Despite the propaganda machine in full swing (unfounded stories of “death by kratom” and Rep. Kristin Jacobs comparing the American Kratom Association to Hitler) the defense of kratom has bipartisan support in both houses. The fact that a few of the esteemed colleagues in Congress have medical degrees should be telling here as well as the fact that it’s not just the herbal community, many of whom have found new quality of life without the narcotic haze and fog of addiction clouding their daily life, but researchers and legislators who may know more than some current DEA heads (see, DEA head unsure if marijuana and heroin are equally addictive) are advocating for the plant.
For the moment now, kratomites have received a stay. The battle seems won, but the war is surely not over. For those who do believe in the importance of allowing people some agency in choices of plant-based and alternative therapies, you may want to visit the Botanical Education Alliance, Kratom United and American Kratom Association to stay updated on the current state of kratom.
Written by Philip Fairbanks from Kratom Crazy.