Industry leaders call for regulation of kratom products

State-level effort to impose rules lost steam in Missouri’s 2023 legislative session
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 7:29 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - More than 1.7 million Americans used the plant-extract kratom in 2021, according to surveys, but many are now concerned about the drug’s use and wide availability.

The American Kratom Association recently issued a consumer advisory about companies that don’t follow its standards.

The advisory followed reports of a Florida woman who died as a result of taking a product that didn’t follow the association’s standards.

Kratom is an extract from a plant called mitragyna speciosa from southeast Asia, a relative of the coffee plant.

It contains “mitragynine,” which, in lower doses, can combat fatigue and increase focus.

In higher doses, doctors say, the drug can act like a narcotic, activating the same receptors that opioids do. In fact, one of its common uses is to alleviate opioid withdrawal.

There is a risk of side effects, including liver toxicity, seizures, respiratory failure and substance use disorder.

“The failure of the FDA today is they refuse to regulate kratom. And that’s the problem,” said Mac Haddow, a public policy fellow with the AKA. “Kratom is a safe product if it’s used responsibly, manufactured properly and labeled appropriately. People need to know exactly how to use the product as it’s formulated in order to achieve the benefits that it provides.”

Missouri lawmakers proposed a bill to regulate kratom statewide, but the bill didn’t make it through the legislative process in time.

The General Assembly actually passed kratom regulations in 2022 – but they were vetoed by Governor Mike Parson. The Republican leader explained that that version of the law defines kratom as a food product, which would be in violation of federal law.

St. Charles County has been regulating kratom since 2019.

Six states have banned kratom entirely, including Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Four states have statewide regulations on the product, including Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Utah.

The remaining 40 states have no statewide regulations on kratom.