AKA vs BEA: Who Should You Support?

June 22, 2018 Articles, News

I think you’ll agree that advocacy groups are the “in” thing right now. Whether it’s Leonardo DiCaprio leaving a sick carbon footprint to spread the word about climate change and accept a “green award” or Irish rock star Bono’s One Campaign fighting poverty and preventable diseases while abusing South African employees, there is no shortage of so-called charitable organizations looking to right the world’s wrongs.

One issue that doesn’t get nearly enough press or celebrity attention is kratom and its purported health benefits. Sure, you’ve seen people like Woody Harrelson and Tommy Chong fight the good fight for marijuana, but it’s unlikely that you’ve seen any high-profile personalities come out to endorse or otherwise defend kratom legality.

That’s why organizations like the American Kratom Association (AKA) and Botanical Education Alliance (BEA) are so important—they’re rare and integral to the future of the Mitragyna speciosa plant.

As anyone who’s ever heard of Patreon knows, donations are vital to the fabric of advocacy. It’s damn near impossible to advocate for something on love alone. Serious, substantive change requires funding. But how do you know who to give your money to? And why should you shell out your hard-earned dollars to one of these outfits?

At first blush, one would assume that these two organizations are essentially the same, but on closer inspection you’ll see that they couldn’t be more different if they tried.

WHAT IS AMERICAN KRATOM ASSOCIATION?

AKA’s mission statement is simple. “Ensuring kratom keeps improving Americans’ Lives.” What’s not so simple? Actually fulfilling that mission statement. If there’s one essential flaw in AKA’s approach to advocating for kratom it’s their naivete.

Established in 2014, this Colorado-based non-profit operates on the assumption that their “good standing” will get them far with legislators so that consumers will continue to have access to kratom. While this is a delightful notion, it is, perhaps, the most gullible one can get when it comes to the subject of government regulation.

As we’ve mentioned before, the FDA has already made their position clear. Not only have they issued a public warning, saying that kratom is dangerous and should not be consumed by humans but they also insist that kratom is synthetic despite the incontrovertible fact that it is a natural compound.

We’re all familiar with the expression, “You can’t fight city hall,” but apparently, AKA thinks otherwise. In addition to their efforts to educate the public about the science of kratom—issuing a long-awaited 8-factor scientific analysis by Dr. Jack Henningfield, Ph.D—they have gone to the mat with bureaucrats over past legislative efforts to regulate or outlaw kratom.

This is all well and good, but not everyone believes this approach will work. As one critical user said on Reddit, “The status quo of kratom WILL change. There is just too much attention on it now for the government’s force of will not to prevail. The AKA is combating this, but I believe it’s inevitable.”

This is not to say that the American Kratom Association is ineffective or worthless. Quite the contrary; the AKA is making positive moves to maintain the status quo where consumer access is concerned and anyone who wants to be able to buy kratom online or elsewhere should consider throwing some support their way.

After all, if consumers are robbed of their right to choose what they buy, what they put in their bodies and what they decide to use to combat things like chronic pain and depression, we’re heading in a direction we don’t want to go. That direction leads to censorship, marshal law and internment. If you’re serious about preventing the government from meddling in your personal life and your health decisions, AKA is the organization to get behind.

WHAT IS THE BOTANICAL EDUCATION ALLIANCE?

A trade union representing kratom vendors, BEA is the polar opposite of AKA. Where AKA is there to protect the best interests of the kratom-curious consumer, BEA is, in this writer’s humble opinion, in it for the money.

Those vendors that benefit most from BEA’s efforts are those who pay membership fees. What are those membership fees exactly? It’s hard to say since their website is currently down as of the time of this writing.

Is this a sign of media blackout? Unlikely. What is likely is dissolution.

In the last year, there has been much evidence to suggest malfeasance on the part of the people at BEA. In August of 2017, journalist Anthony Roberts got wind of the claims BEA was making about where their donation money was going.

Roberts found it curious that BEA would be alleging that an astronomical $75,693.23 was spent on “Eight-Factor Scientific Reports.” When he confronted BEA about their unaudited financial statements,
they said that they had submitted two 200-plus page reports to the DEA, saying one was public and one was not due to privacy laws.

Roberts then contacted the DEA who responded to his Freedom of Information Act inquiry, confirming what Roberts already suspected—that the data provided to the DEA had not originated from the BEA but, rather, the preexisting data supplied by the AKA and Dr. Henningfield’s 8-Factor Scientific Analysis.

Further research found that the BEA had only submitted an 11-page letter from their law firm, a 73-page document, an eight-page study on the pharmacology and legality of kratom that BEA had no hand in writing, and an additional 18-page letter from their lawyers.

All told, that’s 102 pages which is a far cry from the 400 pages they claimed to have submitted. This raises questions about what exactly they’re using their donation monies on. As anyone can tell you, it doesn’t cost $75,693.23 to perform an 8-Factor Scientific Analysis nor does it cost that much to have a lawyer hammer out some legal jargon in less than 30 pages.

For this reason alone, it doesn’t seem advisable to donate to their so-called cause. If anything, it looks like they are only concerned with protecting the interests of people who are paying them to do so. This sort of shady mob mentality isn’t in keeping with the peaceable and communal nature of the kratom community as a whole.

BOTTOM LINE

If you’re genuinely concerned about the future of kratom and want to do your part to safeguard it against classification or regulation, the AKA is the way to go.

Bob Freville
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