An ambitious bill by representative Kristin Jacobs to ban the common shrub kratom has been temporarily defeated. Thanks in part to the Botanical Legal Defense fund, a lobbyist group paid for by donations from the Kratom community.
After pushing hard to stump for legislation to ban the kratom plant in Florida, her bill was effectively quashed after the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee voted unanimously to table the issue indefinitely.
The Broward County representative has made the banning of kratom a central part of her political policy since she was elected in November 2014. Kratom, a common plant related to coffee, has been consumed by farmers in Asia for centuries. Jacobs has campaigned on a platform of banning kratom, saying that the consumption of its leaves can have deadly consequences.
The issue over the legalization of kratom came to a head after the suicide of a young man in Palm Beach County last year. The grieving family came to believe that high doses of kratom were responsible, but autopsy findings showed only pharmaceutical drugs in his system. Kratom experts attempted to update Representative Jacobs on the findings in the case that exculpated kratom in the young man’s unfortunate death but the Coconut Creek deputy remains convinced of the plant’s lethal influence.
Traditional uses of kratom include treatments to boost energy levels, combat diarrhea and ameliorate the negative affects of PMS, anxiety, fatigue and overall exhaustion. No conclusive evidence has ever been shown that kratom has ever been directly involved in a single fatality in the United States.
The legislation introduced by Representative Jacobs has been amended to require that the Florida Attorney General conduct an inquiry into the nature, effects and composition of kratom and then provide the legislature with an official recommendation as to whether the plant should be added to the state’s list of Schedule I controlled substances.
On March 24, the amended version of HB 287, the kratom bill introduced by Representative Jacobs, received a unanimous vote from the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. The bill must now be further vetted by three other subcommittees before being submitted to a hearing in front of the Justice and Appropriations Subcommittee. Currently, no date has been set for that hearing, and the bill is not expected to move forward in the near future.
Kratom is currently legal and available in a wide variety of forms, including whole plants, capsules, powders and concentrated extracts. Many users consume kratom by mixing extracts or powders into chilled tea drinks. The legislation is now considering requiring that all kratom vendors and distributors provide customers with a warning that the plant could potentially damage their health.
Legislators and local authorities have also called for kratom distributors and vendors to voluntarily refuse to sell kratom to adults under the age of 21. Palm Beach County has agreed to spend $25,000 on a propaganda campaign concerning kratom to warn the public against consuming the plant. Although kraton is currently legal statewide, active service members in the military are prohibited from consuming it.