According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), kratom (mitragyna speciosa) is a leaf from a tropical tree in Southeast Asia that can cause stimulant and sedative effects. In late June 2022, in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent letters to four companies selling unapproved kratom products for treating opioid use disorder. According to the FDA website, kratom affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine. It can lead to addiction, abuse, and dependence by consumers. Advocates argue that kratom is helpful for pain management, energy, depression, and anxiety. While the Federal Government continues to urge against using kratom, several states around the country are considering regulating kratom (i.e. kratom ban or other regulations).
Colorado Kratom Regulations
In May 2022, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed SB22-120, introducing the regulation of kratom processors. The legislation, which received bipartisan support, requires that any kratom processor register with the Colorado Department of Revenue and disclose information regarding their products. In addition, the bill establishes minimum requirements for products and prohibits the sale of kratom products to anyone under 21. Additionally, the bill requires a processor to notify the department within seven days of any adverse report being made to the FDA regarding one of their kratom products.
Kentucky Kratom Ban
In Kentucky, State Representative Josh Calloway introduced HB 569, which would have prohibited selling or distributing kratom products to anyone under 21. The legislation moved through the committee process until it was recommitted to Appropriations and Revenue, where it died in committee. However, that has not stopped the conversation in the state capitol, and the Interim Joint Committee on Health, Welfare, and Family Services discussed the topic during a hearing in July 2022.
Missouri Kratom Bill Vetoed
In July 2022, Missouri Governor Mike Parson vetoed HB 1667, which would have regulated the sale of kratom in the state. The bill, which passed both chambers with broad support, would have required proper labeling and restricted the sale of kratom products to anyone under 18. In the veto, Governor Parson cited the FDA’s opposition and lack of approval, reports of safety concerns, and prior seizure of kratom products. Additionally, he cited the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act as sufficient previous guidance obviating new regulation.
Pennsylvania Kratom Ban
In March 2022, State Representative Tracy Pennycuick and a bipartisan group of State Representatives introduced HB 2357. That legislation would have prohibited the sale of kratom products to anyone under the age of 21. It also would have regulated ingredients that could be used in kratom products, mainly controlled substances. Once the bill went through the State House Health Committee, several regulations were removed or altered. The amended version lowered the restricted age from 21 to 18 years old and removed the controlled substances language, which is already illegal under prior law. The State House passed the amended version in late June with almost unanimous support. The bill is currently in the State Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Oregon Kratom Regulation Signed
In Oregon, legislators passed HB 4010 in March 2022, which Governor Kate Brown signed shortly after. The legislation regulates the manufacturing and sale of kratom by requiring processors and retailers to register with the State Department of Revenue. The legislation also makes it a misdemeanor to sell kratom to anyone under the age of 21 and bans retailers from selling products from companies that are not registered with the state. Last year, the Legislature passed another kratom regulation bill, but Governor Brown vetoed the measure.
Wisconsin Kratom Study
In Wisconsin, the state’s Controlled Substances Board said it would study kratom, which became illegal following a 2014 state law that primarily targeted substances found in marijuana. In March, Assembly Bill 599 failed to pass; the legislation would have prohibited the sale of kratom products to anyone under 21 and would have required processors to obtain a food processing plant license from the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection as well as registering the products before sale. The board is expected to consider the matter in January 2023, following a request from state lawmakers for guidance on the issue.
With 2022 coming to an end and 2023 legislative sessions quickly approaching, time will tell how lawmakers continue to address regulating kratom. Some states will look to re-introduce legislation that did not pass during 2022 legislative sessions, while others may develop new initiatives to regulate kratom. Mississippi is one state that could look to take action on kratom in 2023. So could Michigan, if the state does not pass legislation by the end of the year.
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