Legislative Update: Mac Haddow, Senior Fellow on Public Policy (10/2/19)
It likely is a phrase that is overused, but it certainly applies in this case: “You cannot make this stuff up.”
Last night, the Point Pleasant Beach Borough Council began voting on the proposed ban on the sale of kratom in the town, and then things got very interesting. After just 2 votes were cast by the Council, the sponsor of the ban called for the vote to be tabled because it was “clear the proposed ban would not pass.”
In my 40+ years of lobbying at all levels of government, I have never seen a motion to stop a vote in the middle of a roll call because you do not want to face the inevitable results of losing on the issue. In this case, the sponsor himself made the statement that he wanted to stop the vote because he knew the proposed ban on kratom sales was going to be defeated.
Point Pleasant Beach is a small coastal town that is popular with tourists, and the town has a diverse resident population ranging from retirees to young millennials. Several weeks ago, Councilman and Mayoral candidate Paul M. Kanitra proposed an ordinance that would ban the sale of kratom in the town. The proposed resolution to ban kratom reads like the Anti-Kratom Talking Points and anti-kratom disinformation that has been peddled by former-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb for the last several years.
The American Kratom Association (AKA) provided the compelling peer-reviewed scientific research that shows that kratom should not be banned, but appropriately regulated to protect consumers from adulterated and unsafe products that masquerade as pure kratom.
Councilman Kanitra refused to budge, and strongly attacked kratom as a dangerous drug that had to be removed from sale in Point Pleasant Beach.
Other members of the Council clearly agreed that kratom should be regulated appropriately, and it visibly irritated Councilman Kanitra. Kanitra argued that all of the kratom advocates were just part of a massive lobbying and grass-roots campaign and he found it telling that no one was there to argue that kratom should be banned. I told the Council during my speaking time that the opposite was true.
The Big PhRMA companies are funding anti-kratom attacks on popular websites like WebMD where millions of people go to get advice on dietary supplements and drugs that can improve and manage their health. There is a huge anti-kratom effort launched by medication assisted opioid treatment facilities who would lose significant revenue if the FDA were to lift the import alert and allow kratom products to go mainstream.
And I pointed out that even Councilman Kanitra, who runs a lobbying firm in Washington D.C., represents a client that markets a medication management product that helps patients monitor their drug intake, including opioids. If there are fewer people taking opioids because their pain is well-managed with kratom, then limiting or banning kratom makes business sense for any who profit from wide circulation of opioid products. Setting aside the potential actual or perceived conflict-of-interest on that representation, the financial interest of any group that relies on the continued and widespread use of opioids is obvious. While Councilman Kanitra did not even see the potential conflict with his own client, there can be no question that the opponents of kratom have the resources and capabilities to make their case.
This strange and arguably legally questionable parliamentary maneuver by Councilman Kanitra sets the stage for another attempt to vote again on the proposed sale of kratom ban. It certainly was a weird outcome.
Here is a link to a news report from the Borough Council Meeting held on Tuesday, October 1, 2019: