The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has waged a misinformation war against Kratom for years, claiming that Kratom is a deadly opioid even though there has never been a death scientifically proven to be due to Kratom, and science has proven that Kratom is fundamentally safer than morphine-like opioids and cannot cause respiratory failure.

The FDA’s war against Kratom reached a fevered pitch in 2016, when the FDA almost successfully got Kratom banned nationwide, but millions of Kratom users stepped up to inform legislators and regulators that Kratom has benefited their lives, if not saved their lives. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) ultimately decided that banning Kratom would do far more harm than good, since it would leave Americans with no alternative for pain management and opioid dependence besides dangerous synthetic opioids and opiates, and therefore banning Kratom would cause an untold amount of death and destruction.

The FDA perhaps did not think they were going to lose, so in 2014 and 2016 they used civil asset forfeiture law to seize and destroy millions of dollars of Kratom in states where Kratom is legal.

Specifically, the FDA seized 25,000 pounds of Kratom powder in California, worth more than $5 million, in September 2014. In January 2016 the FDA seized 90,000 bottles of Kratom in Illinois worth $400,000. In August 2016, around the time the FDA almost got Kratom scheduled, they seized 100 cases of Kratom products in California worth $150,000.

Since Kratom was and continues to be legal in those states, and the businesses which they seized the Kratom from were operating legitimately, the FDA used civil asset forfeiture law. The crazy thing about civil asset forfeiture is that the Kratom itself is the defendant, and the Kratom obviously cannot hire a lawyer or speak up since its inanimate, and therefore these businesses never had a chance to defend their Kratom products from being seized.

Essentially, the FDA claimed that Kratom is dangerous and considered an unapproved drug, and used that misinformation to get the U.S. Marshal to seize the Kratom, even though the businesses which they seized the Kratom from were above board and operating in states where Kratom is legal.

Effectively, the FDA got away with theft in these cases via misapplying civil asset forfeiture laws.

Thankfully, the FDA stopped seizing Kratom in this way after Kratom advocates won the Federal level Kratom fight in 2016.

Unfortunately, via an import alert the FDA continues to seize Kratom products at the border. Literally, anything labeled as Kratom will be seized in customs without any physical inspection, or any product coming from overseas vendors/companies which are known to export Kratom to the United States.

It is unknown how much Kratom the FDA seizes this way, but it is probably millions of dollars a year based on anecdotal reports that I have heard from Kratom vendors I have talked to.

There are multiple things that are wrong with this situation. The businesses which they are seizing the Kratom from with this import alert are operating legitimately and above board, the Kratom is being shipped to states where Kratom is legal, the FDA is using misinformation to justify this import alert, the import alert leads to higher Kratom prices and less variety for all Americans, and this is leading to the seizure and destruction of perfectly good Kratom that could have benefited pain patients and those with opioid dependence.

Perhaps this will only end when the Federal government steps in and stops the FDA from misusing their import alert powers, but that may be a long time from now. Until then, all Kratom being imported into this country is under threat of being seized at the border, because the FDA continues to peddle misinformation and refuses to acknowledge the science.