TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — What’s Kratom, and why is Florida trying to regulate it?
A plant in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia, Kratom contains mitragynine – a compound used in herbal medicine since at least the 19th century. The active substance acts on opioid receptors, causing a euphoric feeling.
Some say it can help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms. However, according to the University of Florida, the most common side effects of Kratom use are upset stomach, vomiting, constipation, drowsiness, agitation, and dizziness.
But Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) and Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola) introduced legislation to ban the sale of the substance entirely. Twin bills called the “Kratom Consumer Protection Act” were passed back and forth between the House and Senate until lawmakers settled on a watered-down version of the bill.
The version approved by both chambers (HB 179) restricts Kratom to users 21 years and older. Anyone who attempts to sell the substance to a customer under 21 will now face a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail with a $500 fine.
“We’re moving the age to 21. And that’s about it,” Sen. Gruters said after his stricter amendments to require manufacturers to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and test their kratom products failed.
“While I’m happy to work in the future on consumer protections related to this product, I believe as to be fiscally responsible... I’m asking the Senate to stick with our bill this year,” Anandre said.
Most states regulate Kratom and six states – Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin – have banned it.