Why You Need to Pay Attention to The SITSA Act
By the American Kratom Association
I am writing to give you an update on the status of the SITSA Act and the legislative “markup” that was held by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on July 12.
Frankly, while we made substantial progress with some of the key members of this Committee, we have yet to secure approval of amendments that are desperately needed to protect the rights of consumers to make their own choices about their personal health and well-being.
I know that there are some in our community who personally believe that the SITSA Act will not apply to kratom, and that the Attorney General will never abuse the authority granted in this legislation to attempt to schedule kratom, and therefore remove it from the market.
Respectfully, I strongly disagree with this point of view – here is why:
• There is no disagreement that the SITSA Act grants broad new authority to the Attorney General and the DEA to make decisions about products that the government wants to ban by placing them on this newly created “Schedule A.”
• In my discussions with our champions in the Congress, the experts on our legal team who have a broad background in FDA and DEA scheduling issues on substances and compounds, and Dr. Jack Henningfield, who is the pre-eminent leader in the field of addiction and safety for dietary supplements; all are in unanimous agreement that the language in the SITSA Act is too broad, grants too much authority to the Attorney General and DEA, and gives far too much discretion to regulators to “overreach” and use this new statute as the basis for potential banning kratom from consumers.
• At the heart of the issue is the definitions of what a “synthetic analog” are. The title of the SITSA Act specifically states it as the “Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017, or the SITSA Act.” But then the bill purpose clearly says the Act is intended to “clarify how controlled substance analogues are to be regulated.” It is not limited to “synthetics” at all. It is a trick regularly used in Washington DC to use hyped-up bill titles, that have no effect of law, to mislead people about what the true intent and actual effect of the language of the bill will be in their lives.
• If we fail to challenge this broad language, and to actively advocate for amendments to limit the application of this legislation to botanical plants, including kratom, we would be guilty of advocacy malpractice.
• The American Kratom Association is unwilling to put the freedoms of our supporters at risk in the hope that the Attorney General, the DEA, and other local law enforcement officials will act responsibly.
Allow me to be clear – the AKA Board does not object to the right of any advocate to disagree with what I have just outlined as the reasons why the AKA is aggressively attempting to persuade the Congress to enact limiting amendments to this overly broad legislation.
However, I admit to being deeply disappointed when I learned that a newly-formed kratom advocacy group sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte and conveyed the support of the kratom community for the SITSA Act. By doing so, their letter materially misled the Committee about the substantial concerns that are held by tens of thousands of kratom supporters and AKA advocates who do not agree with their point of view.
While it may not have been intended, this letter created confusion among members of the Judiciary Committee and their staffs, and served to convey the misimpression that the kratom community as a whole were supportive of the SITSA Act as it is presently written.
Not agreeing with AKA’s concerns about the overreach that is possible under the broad language of the current version of the SITSA Act is fine, but that does not require a communication that seeks to undermine the legitimate concerns of so many thousands of kratom supporters with this legislation.
I would point to the fact that we have now collected over 18,000 petition signatures asking for Congress to amend the SITSA Act. Our legitimate concerns with the threat to access to kratom under this legislation have been documented with our legal team and our scientific experts.
Please allow me to conclude with my own opinion, which I hope those who disagree with me will respect as a right for me to do so. Some in the kratom community are stating that the SITSA Act will have no impact given the outcome of a recent court case in Tennessee where a kratom seller had the case against him “retired” based on the facts and circumstances of this case, including questions by the prosecuting attorney about whether the construct of the state statute with regards to the chemical properties of kratom were covered.
Simply put, the AKA does not want any kratom seller, or kratom consumer, to have to defend against an overly broad statute after they have been arrested, booked, and scheduled for trial. We do not want to rely upon a reasonable prosecuting attorney to examine the statutory framework and then make a decision that the case may not be prosecutable because of the loose legislative language, or some nuanced definition of what a “synthetic analogue” actually is.
The AKA’s goal is to have legislation that clearly and unambiguously restricts any police officer, any prosecutor, or any judge from arresting and convicting anyone in America of kratom sales or consumption.
The AKA will now focus its efforts in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, that has joint jurisdiction on the SITSA Act with the House Judiciary Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, and ask our champions there to amend this bill to limit the discretionary authority of the Attorney General and the DEA that poses a real threat to consumer access to kratom.
Following that Hearing, we will take our fight to the U.S. Senate where we know our voices will be heard. We hope all will join us, or agree to respectfully disagree without harming those who have slightly differing views, but who share a greater goal.
For those who have not yet done so, or for those who have not encouraged everyone in your circle of family and friends to sign our petition, here is the link to join our fight to protect our personal freedom to use kratom for our personal health and well-being.
Our voices matter. When the DEA tried to schedule kratom and ban it, we all fought and we won.
It was a battle that no one in Washington DC believed we could win, but we did.
With a unified voice, we stood toe-to-toe with the powerful Washington bureaucrats, and the people prevailed.
I am confident we will be able to do the same thing here.
Thank you for your support, and for all that you do to protect kratom.
Chairman of the Board
American Kratom Association
This news appeared first at the American Kratom Association and appears here with permission