Kratom belongs to the coffee family and is an herbal supplement grown primarily in Southeast Asia. Some states banned it after the feds raised questions about its safety, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the problem was not with the supplement, but with unscrupulous vendors associating it…that the Florida lawmakers took the first step today to prevent it from happening again.
Kratom is legal but unregulated in Florida. He is a big seller in the Natural Life chain of stores. Gabe Suarez is the owner.
“And every day we get testimonials from people about how this plant has changed their lives for the better. And we hear it multiple times a day, every day,” says Suarez.
Suarez tells us he requires what he sells has been third-party tested to ensure it’s pure and safe. “You name it, we’re looking for it.”
But there is no obligation to do so in the law yet. Mac Haddow is a 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 had a bad reputation in the past. Sarasota County banned it in 2014 after reports it could be dangerous. Haddow says nothing could be further from the truth.
“It’s perfectly safe. It’s not dangerously addictive. Unless it’s been adulterated with very dangerous substances, including fentanyl, morphine and heroin.
And because of that, the American Kratom Association supports regulation and testing.
“About a third of the Kratom population used it as a cup of coffee in the morning for an energy boost and increased focus. Another third use it to reduce anxiety, then the last third, people are finding out that it can help you wean yourself off very dangerous opioids,” Haddow says.
Sarasota is the only county that has banned Kratom. This bill would repeal that ban.
Under the legislation, distributors would be required to test and certify the supplement before shipping it to retailers, says sponsor Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota).
“I think people should have access and have availability. You just want to weed out the bad actor and the people who are turning the product into something it’s not.
The bill authorized its first committee unanimously.