Posts Tagged "kava legal status"

UK Tightens Its Kava Ban

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Kava News | 3 comments

UK Tightens Its Kava Ban

Dear readers, as most of you know, I have a vested interest in keeping informed of changes in kava’s worldwide legal status. Kava is my and my family’s livelihood, and it behooves us to know which countries have no problem with importing kava and which ones will stop it at the border. However, a recent upset in the United Kingdom’s laws surrounding kava has left many vendors (as well as ordinary British citizens!) confused about the legal status of kava in Britain. In a new ruling announced just this past week, the United Kingdom’s Department of Health stated it would be tightening its regulations on kava: among other things, this means that families in South Pacific countries will no longer be able to send kava to their loved ones in the United Kingdom. Readers, I am disappointed and more than a little confused at this ruling! Kava drinking is an essential part of culture for people of South Pacific descent; to suddenly deprive them of that, when kava has been used without incident in the UK for the past twelve years, seems arbitrary and unfair. Gillian Capewell, press officer for the UK Department of Health, explained the department’s reasoning: “The Kava-kava in food (England) regulations 2002 came into force January 13th, 2003, banning the sale, possession for sale, offer, exposure, or advertisement for sale [of kava]. In addition, the regulations also ban the importation into England of any food consisting of, or containing, kava-kava.” Capewell argued that the UK did not change its laws regulating kava; instead, the change reflects an increase in enforcement of the existing kava laws. The law was put in place in 2003 when UK officials believed kava to carry a potential risk of liver damage. I won’t waste space here debunking those liver damage claims, as I have posted several articles on this blog addressing kava and liver safety. However, I will say that this move toward greater enforcement is not only baffling, but its actual impact on kava vendors such as our own humble farm is far from clear. For one thing, in most countries including the US, where we are based, kava is classified as a dietary supplement and not a food. How will the UK handle kava products that are clearly labeled as dietary supplements? Will customs stop any product that contains kava or only those that are more food-like such as instant kava mixes? Furthermore, the Biosecurity Agency of Fiji maintains that they are not aware of any importation ban in the UK on kava intended for personal use. Chairman Xavier Riyaz Khan said that the agency would be informed of any ban by the Plant Protection Organization, its counterpart in the United Kingdom. While kava root and medicines that contain extracts of kava root are banned for sale in Britain, kava is still legal to possess as far as I can determine. I can also say that Kona Kava Farm has been shipping kava to customers in the United Kingdom for over ten years and has rarely had a package stopped. Our success rate for shipping kava through British customs hovers at 98% (with a 95% success rate in Ireland), compared to a 50% success rate in Australia, which has far more restrictive kava laws. So if I’m in the UK, can I order kava from you or not? The short answer? Our 98% success rate at least merits a try. Customers in Australia have historically had a much harder time receiving kava from us (50% is about as good odds as flipping a coin), but our customers in...

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Is Your Kava GMP Kava?

Posted by on Oct 2, 2014 in Featured, The Mind of Makaira | 0 comments

Is Your Kava GMP Kava?

We’ve always felt that assurance of quality was of the utmost for our treasured and loyal customers.  As part of that commitment to quality, Kona Kava Farm became a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) compliant company from the farm to your table several years ago as the new, far stricter rules came into being for small businesses in 2011. What does GMP do for you?  It assures a minimum of quality in all of your dietary supplements, as any manufacturer, distributor, and retailer has to agree to follow a very strict set of procedures for all aspects of providing you with the Kava products you love.  In fact, GMP procedures are the very manufacturing procedures that pharmaceutical manufacturers have to follow.  This includes extremely strict standards down to the amount and type of particles in the air of a clean room where products are actually manufactured. We start by testing every single harvest of Kava that comes out of the ground for contaminants, pathogens, metals, and bacteria.  This is done in a certified testing facility such as Chromadex; specialists in testing raw materials and finished goods for all kinds of industries. We then re-test that product when it arrives at our USA holding facility, where it remains in quarantine until the lab confirms it’s safe for release.  It’s here where we do all of our extra testing, including Total Kavalactone Content and Kavalactone Lineup of each and every one of our Kava products.  When we say that our Kavalactone 30% Capsules are a very “happy” 2-4-6 lineup, it’s not a guess.  It’s because we know exactly what the lineup is, from 1-6, as well as the exact Kavalactone percentage.  Our Kavalactone 30% Capsules are actually manufactured from Kavalactone 33% Powder, but we always underestimate to ensure our customers are never disappointed with the quality of the products they receive. Once the Kava root is released from the initial holding facility, that’s when the fun begins!  That’s when it gets portioned out for the manufacturer into Kavalactone 70% oil, which then gets crafted into several Kona Kava Farm products, including our Kavalactone 55% Paste, and our Full Spectrum 55% Paste; two of our All-Time Top Selling products here at Kona Kava Farm.  Or, it’s made into our Kavalactone 33% Powder that turns into Instant Drink Mixes, capsules, and other products. Mind you, every step of this process is carried out in a GMP Manufacturing facility, ensuring safety and transparency in the process that is painstakingly documented and traced every step of the way.  Down to the sterility of the product, anything that touches the product (never human hands!), to the packages they’re placed in and even the bands used to heat seal each product for your protection; Kona Kava Farm has taken the time and expense to ensure you get a consistent, quality, legal product that contains the exact dosages that are spelled out on each and every label for each and every product. And here’s an easy test to know if your Kava is manufactured in an FDA-compliant GMP facility; does it have Supplement Facts on the back?  Does it clearly list the contents of the package?  Does the package give you contact information regarding who to call in case of issue or emergency?  Does it contain less than 290mg of Kavalactone per serving (hopefully much less), and 290mg of Kavalactone per a total daily total intake of Kava?  Is there an Expiration or a Best By date on the package, so you know when it needs to be used up by? Do you know if your Kava ever gets...

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German Kava Ban Repealed!

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Kava News | 0 comments

German Kava Ban Repealed!

Aloha, dear readers! It is with a joyously singing heart that I write to you all today with news that the ban on kava kava in Germany has officially been lifted by the country’s highest administrative court! In a story that appeared in Islands Business on June 12th, 2014, it seems that the German Federal Administrative Court has finally recognized that kava kava is a very safe medicine when used appropriately!! Basically, the court stated that groundless fears were simply not enough to justify banning people’s access to this wonderful root: in explaining its decision to overturn the kava ban emplaced in Germany in 2002, the members of the court said that kava does not carry enough risk to outweigh its medicinal benefits, and further stated that the 2002 kava ban was “unlawful and inappropriate” [1]. This is music to my ears! Though I still find it somewhat absurd that it took a high federal court to affirm what we in the kava community have known about kava for decades, and indigenous South Pacific Islanders have known for centuries, I am still heartened that this decision may prove to be a renaissance for the global kava market. Not only was it an injustice to deny the global community a safe medicine that has been proven effective for anxiety by more scientific studies than have been done for any other herbal supplement, but many small farmers in South Pacific regions also depend on kava exports to support themselves. The kava bans of the mid-2000s in the EU and Australia have been devastating for the economies of Vanuatu, Tonga and elsewhere; maybe now these countries can finally get back on their feet! The Tongan chamber of commerce has already expressed hope that the lifting of the ban will improve the economic picture for the outer islands, which is mostly home to small family farmers. In the words of vice president of the chamber of commerce Paula Taumoepeau, “kava, all growers in Tonga know how to grow it, and grow it well” [2]. Chair of the Kava Executive Council Tagaloa Eddie Wilson is hopeful that all the positive and in-depth research on kava, its pharmacology, and the best methods of growing and typing different strains will help farmers and vendors determine a set of quality standards for growing, harvesting, storing and processing kava: “the next step now is to actually put in place a set of quality assurances, processes so that whoever exports kava will have to comply with some very strict quality standards” [3]. I couldn’t agree more! On the farm, we’ve always strived to use only the best organic growing methods when raising our kava, and have always avoided the use of pesticides and harsh chemical fertilizers. I am encouraged to see that the rest of the kava export market may soon follow suit and actually create standards to define the best practices that honest kava growers have always followed. For instance, Vanuatu’s laws already forbid exporting so-called “ignoble” kava strains that are too low in kavalactones, or have chemotypes that may produce less consistent effects compared to noble kava varieties. Quality standards for kava raw material are also essential for restoring people’s faith in the kava market. After all, it is now commonly thought that the improper inclusion of stems and leaves—which my people never use in traditional kava preparations by the way!—may have been responsible for cases of liver damage recorded in the mid-2000s. Prominent kava researchers Vincent Lebot and Rolf Teschke have also fingered mold contamination as a possible factor. Their hypothesis is that kava roots stored...

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Progress for Kava in Australia (And a Little Hawaiian History)

Posted by on Feb 8, 2013 in The Mind of Makaira | 0 comments

Progress for Kava in Australia (And a Little Hawaiian History)

Aloha Everyone! I hope the new year has been going well for all of you so far. Here at the farm we’ve been incredibly busy, and there hasn’t been much time for rest or relaxation (though ‘awa has still been a constant and calming companion at the end of my work day). I’d like to take a moment to share some great news, and a bit of Hawaiian history with all of you. You may remember my mentioning the Australian kava ban in a few of my blog posts last year. Kava is treated as a prescription-only medicine in Australia, meaning that one has to have a license from a Western doctor to possess the medicine. This means that the drink cannot be consumed in its traditional fashion at cultural events, such as the National Multicultural Festival. Pacific Islanders have been fighting against this ban for some time, and last year, they convinced the government to allow traditional kava consumption at the event, and it was so successful that the Australian government has decided to lift the ban on kava at that festival permanently. The Australian Kava Movement spokesman Siua Tofua’ipangai expressed happiness at the announcement, but believes that kava use should be permitted in all cultural and religious activities without a permit. This is definitely a victory, though it is a small one. Unfortunately, indigenous kava users from many different Pacific nations have been struggling with the suppression of traditional kava use since Western governments first began to colonize our homes. We’ve been relatively lucky in Hawaii, in that we haven’t been officially forbidden to use any of our sacred medicines. Nevertheless, Hawaii is still a colonized land. January 17th marked the anniversary of the overthrow of the Constitutional Monarchy of Hawaii, then led by Queen Lili’uokalani. The overthrow was primarily organized by American citizens who were looking to protect their business interests. From that time on, Hawaii was annexed by President William McKinley, and became a United States Territory. The tale of the Hawaiian takeover and resulting liberation movement is long and complex, and I won’t get into it here – this is a blog about kava, after all. I simply want to bring this event to your attention, as its anniversary has just passed. In commemoration of the loss of our independence as a nation, my family took the time to have a formal ‘awa ceremony and to sit together in prayer for our nation and for the world. If we are to move forward together as a planet, the rights and medicines of all peoples must be recognized and respected. This shift in Australia is a positive one, but much more remains to be done so that we may all use the medicines we value and practice the traditions that ground us in our own native lands. Aloha no,...

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Driving Under the Influence of Kava

Posted by on Sep 11, 2012 in Kava News | 4 comments

Driving Under the Influence of Kava

Aloha everyone! Makaira here! I hope you’re all enjoying some pleasant fall weather, and that those of you who have headed back for another year of school are settling in well after a relaxing summer vacation. I’ve been noticing a rather disturbing trend in recent mentions of kava in the news, and decided that a blog post on the topic was in order. With the increasing popularity of kava across the globe, we are also seeing more and more cases of individuals getting pulled over for driving erratically while extremely intoxicated on kava. There were a few court cases in California some ten years ago surrounding people who were pulled over after drinking large quantities of kava. In one such case, a man in San Mateo, California, was pulled over, failed a field sobriety test, and said that he had taken 23 (!) cups of kava before driving. The charges against him were dropped when it was determined that state DUI laws did not definitively include kava tea. In most states (including here in Hawaii) the situation is similar – DUI laws do not usually indicate kava as an intoxicating substance under the influence of which citizens are forbidden to drive. And, fortunately, although I have been seeing at least one article a month regarding an individual being pulled over for driving erratically under the influence of kava, no one seems to have been killed or gotten into a serious accident as of yet. However, as kava increases in popularity, and as it becomes more and more common for people to use it as a substitute for alcohol, cases of people trying to drive on high quantities of kava are going to increase. It is essential to remember that kava is sedating, and that it does slow down reaction time. Furthermore, those wonderful muscle relaxing effects of kava also tend to decrease physical coordination. I always drink kava after I’m done working and have come home for the night, and would never drive on anything but the smallest amount – I know that my awareness and coordination will not be sufficient to safely operate a motor vehicle. After all, once I’m wrapped in the warm embrace of this beautiful plant, the last thing I want to do is attempt something stressful and potentially dangerous like piloting several tons of metal moving at incredibly high speeds. Furthermore, I don’t know a single person in my family or circle of friends who would ever even consider driving on any significant quantity kava. So, the reason I’m writing this article is to ask anyone who reads it to be very careful when it comes to kava and driving. I don’t want to hear about anyone coming to harm when working with this plant – kava is a healer, after all, and as long as it is treated with respect, it will only bring benefit to your life. Furthermore, as a community of kava users, we have a responsibility to ensure that this plant stays safe and legal for years to come. If kava becomes linked to automobile accidents, injuries, or, god forbid, deaths, there is a much greater chance that it will be regulated, and that the thousands of people who benefit daily from kava will no longer be able to access this medicine. Next time you drink kava, take the same precautions that you would with alcohol – be sure that you don’t have to drive anytime too soon afterwards if you want to drink more than just a little, set up a designated driver system if necessary, and call a...

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