Kratom supplement discussed by Florida lawmakers

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 4:48 PM CST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Kratom is in the coffee family and is an herbal supplement grown mostly in southeast Asia. Some states have banned it after the federal government raised questions about its safety, but the problem reportedly came not from the supplement, but from what unscrupulous vendors laced it with, which Florida lawmakers took the first step today to prevent from happening again.

Kratom is legal but unregulated in Florida. It is a big seller at the Natural Life chain of stores. Gabe Suarez is the owner.

“And everyday, we get testimonials from people how this plant has changed their life for the better. And we hear it multiple times a day, everyday” said Suarez.

Suarez tells us he requires what he sells to have been tested by a third party to insure its pure and safe.

“You name it, we’re searching for it,” he said.

But there’s no requirement to do that in law, yet. Mac Haddow is the Senior Fellow at the American Kratom Association.

“It is used as a popular product in the United States today by eleven to fifteen million people,” Haddow told lawmakers.

Kratom has gotten a bad rap in the past. Sarasota County banned it in 2014 after reports it could be dangerous. Haddow says nothing is further from the truth.

“It is perfectly safe. It is not dangerously addictive. Unless its been adulterated with very dangerous substances including fentanyl, morphine and heroin,” Haddow said.

And because of that, the American Kratom Association supports regulation and testing.

“About a third of the Kratom population used it like a cup of coffee in the morning for an energy boost and increased focus. Another third use it to reduce anxiety, and then the final third are people that are finding that it can help you wean off very dangerous opioids,” said Haddow.

Sarasota is the only county that has banned Kratom. This legislation would undo that ban.

Under the legislation, distributors would be required to test and certify the supplement before shipping it to retailers says sponsor Senator Joe Gruters.

“I think people should have access and have the availability. You just want to eliminate the bad actor and those people who are turning the product into something that it is not,” said Gruters.

The legislation cleared its first committee unanimously.

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