TALLAHASSEE, FL—The Florida Legislature aims to increase safety regulations surrounding Kratom distribution, an increasingly popular herbal substance used throughout the state to combat opioid addiction. The new bill would crack down on selling adulterated versions of the product, requiring safety labels and dosage outlines.
Kratom is known to produce either "opioid- or stimulant-like effects,", depending on the type of strand drunk or, less commonly, smoked. Even though the substance is not FDA-approved, many use it to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms, pain, fatigue, and mental health problems, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Last session, Republican Sen. Joe Gruters sponsored a bill banning Kratom use under the age of 21. The Kratom torch passed to Republican Sen. Keith Perry this year, with his proposed bill SB 842. This measure bans processors from preparing, selling, or distributing adulterated Kratom, and prohibits any labels claiming the product is intended to treat or cure medical conditions. It also requires these processors to include directions for safe use of the product.
"We really need to make sure that nothing is getting cut with the Kratom product itself and that people are getting the pure unadulterated product that they're paying for," Sen. Gruters told The Floridian.
"People are cutting it at all different stages, putting different additives into it, and the consumer has the right to know exactly what they're buying," said Sen. Gruters.
One study by the National Institute of Health found "multiple packaged commercial Kratom products likely to contain artificially elevated concentrations" of the alkaloid responsible for Kratom's "concerning mechanistic and side effect profile,". The study states that elevated levels of this alkaloid—7-hydroxymitragynine—are a major contributing factor to the addictive potential of Kratom.
Sen. Perry told The Floridian about the very little research surrounding Kratom and its effects, explaining his plans to work with researchers at the University of Florida to study the health impacts of the substance.
"We want to make sure that this is Kratom that you're getting, it doesn't have other products in it, and it's tested to make sure of that," said Sen. Perry, explaining his bill. "And then if we find out [at some point] that it's a dangerous product, and it has effects that we haven't seen yet, then it may be appropriate to ban the product or regulate it much more than we are now,"
"If you buy Aspirin, it tells you what dosage to take," He continued, noting the lack of dosage instructions present on Kratom products. "So we want to have some kind of guidelines for people who may purchase this—some recommendations,"
SB 842 has two committees left before the Senate Floor. Its companion bill, HB 861, has yet to see committee.