The Law and Kava in Germany
The bottom line in July of 2015 in relation to Kava and German law is simply this: Any non-licensed private individual or entity that tries to have Kava sent to an address in Germany is subject to fines, criminal prosecution, and possible jail time. I don’t want to sound alarmist; I’m just making it clear that anyone who is not a pharmaceutical company or very verified research company cannot import Kava into Germany even though the German Kava Ban has been lifted and all of the original marketing authorizations have been reinstated.
We had many German customers ask us if we can simply be less precise about what is in the packages we were shipping to Germany, but I’m sorry; we cannot do that for any reason as we do not ship Kava to Germany at this time. And, before you get afraid that you’l be whisked off to prison for trying to import Kava, know that German Customs is choosing to do with packages of Kava sent to Germany, either destroying them or simply returning them to sender. For this reason, if you manage to sneak an order from us to Germany, unfortunately it is at your own risk.
Commercial Experience Shipping Kava to Germany
Questions regarding shipping Kava to Germany became such a large issue for us here we felt it warranted a blog post. In short, we first thought that Customs agents were unaware that the Kava Ban was officially lifted in Germany February of 2015. We shipped an average of dozen packages to Germany a week, and 6-8 of those packages would either disappear or be returned to us. We couldn’t figure out why.
We first simply added a note about how orders to Germany would be at your own risk, because we originally thought that once Customs agents in Germany became informed, that they would allow more of the packages through.
That wasn’t working.
Simultaneously, we had Kava customers from Germany asking if we could stop stating on our packages that Kava was inside. We had requests to mislabel the products we were sending as anything but Kava. We feel your pain, and we sympathize with your desire to have the freedom to work with and enjoy Kava, but we are unable to mislabel packages or consciously attempt to mislead Customs agents. Sorry for that.
We even resorted to placing a note on the outside of our Kava package, and a duplicate of that note inside the package itself. This label said:
[NOTE TO GERMAN CUSTOMS]
We finally were forced to contemplate blocking orders from Germany completely, partly because of how frustrating it is for both us an our treasured customers, partly because of misleading and untrue statements about Kona Kava Farm and KavaDotCom regarding our German Customers. We wanted to get the truth out there as the law states it, and not from hearsay.
Regardless, as a last ditch effort, we stopped putting “Kava” as the contents of the package, and instead simply put “Dietary Supplement”. But, from the 12 packages were were sending to Germany a week, about 8 of them were still getting outright confiscated and destroyed, or they were being returned to us.
I decided to get in touch with some sort of authority on the German Kava Ban to find out why were were having such an impossible time shipping Kava to Germany. I ended up having the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Mathias Schmidt in in July of 2015. We spent time discussing both his work in getting the Kava ban lifted, as well as the current controversy over two-day (Tudei) Kava and Flavokavain A and B (Please read “An Invented Scapegoat: Flavokawain B”). I was shocked at what I learned.
It turns out that Kava was never legal for personal use in Germany; it was and is only a prescription medication. This was shocking to us, especially when we read and quoted several articles regarding the lifting of the Kava ban that made no mention of the fact that the ban was lifted only for those who can legally prescribe Kava as a medication.
Dr. Schmidt offers a timeline that gives a quick overview of the history and fate of KAva in Germany, which affected the rest of the world and continues to:
- 2000 – In Switzerland, there were 10 cases of liver toxicity
- 2001 – The German drug regulatory agency BfArM starts a drug safety protocol
- 2002 – In Spring of 2002, Commission E spoke against a ban
- 2002 – All German marketing authorizations for kava removed
- 2002 – Then, all European states followed ban, without having any evidence.
- 2002 – In June of 2002, Germany didn’t ban kava, but they removed the ability to sell it.
- 2001 – 2011 – market holds continue, but there was no official decision from German regulators
- 2011 – Germany finally confirms the Kava ban, despite all new evidence showing safety of Kava
- 2012 – 2015 – Companies could finally take the Kava ban to court (now that it was an official decision)
- 2014 – In June of 2014, the first ruling came down, which stated the Kava Ban was illegal in Germany!
- 2014 – The Kava Ban was officially lifted, but could still be appealed.
- 2015 – In February of 2015, the appeal date passed, so Kava is legal in Germany once again.
- 2015 – All kava authorizations were re-instated, as the court denies a negative benefit to risk balance for kava
I was hoping you could point me toward the primary sources for this controversy: what documents point toward the hepatotoxicity of kava, and what documents refute this?
We feel that the ultimate authority on this controversy is the World Health Organization and their comprehensive, unbiased study of every available study they could find. Their findings were published in a book available for free on Google Books called; “Assessment of the Risk of Hepatotoxicity with Kava Products. It’s an incredibly enlightening book, partly because the WHO had no specific agenda going in.
Their basic conclusion is that water-based extractions of Kava roots have absolutely NO LINK TO LIVER DAMAGE whatsoever. What’s funny to me, though, are people who try to dismiss this worldwide, well-respected organization because they want to cling to their beliefs that Kava causes liver damage. It absolutely does not, and is easily proven that it does not by reading through the numerous studies.
Something we all often overlook is how many cases of liver damage have been recorded outside of clinical studies and official channels? In over 3,000 years of use, by millions upon millions of people, there are only 2-3 POSSIBLE cases of any negative impact on the liver from heavy Kava use. And this is from heavy, daily Kava use, not just a casual use in the amounts recommended by the FDA. Over 2,000 people per year die from adverse effects to aspirin. Alcohol alone kills hundreds of thousands of people per year, and wreaks havoc on a liver. And the list goes on. Instead of touting Kava consumption as a great way to PROTECT THE LIVER when consumed instead of alcohol, the few possible cases are blown out of proportion and focused on.
Off my soapbox; I can get a little emotional with this topic. The link is above, do your own research, and I’d be very interested to hear the conclusions you draw from an informed opinion!
Hope this helps!
Until big pharma have a handle on Kava ie corner the market it will be an uphill battle to gain full acceptance, that’s just the way it is, social conscience needs to grow into a ground swell against bullying. Where there is clear justification.
Its illegal because it Works. Cant have that when we are selling valium and other synthetic shit like crazy. In norway we have Things that smell ok and that is supposed to calm anxiety. Other than Natural remedies we have valium and other horrible drugs thats patented and sellable in pillform. Its all about Money, they dont care about Your Health or well-being! And it makes me mad and incredibly tired of being told what is good for you or not! Its time to kick them out!