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Senate committee schedules kratom legislation

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The war on designer drugs no longer is limited to synthetic substances.

Kratom — an herb derived from the leaf of a tropical tree indigenous to areas of Southeast Asia–has been gaining popularity in kava bars and smoke shops as the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency labeled it as substance of growing concern.

It also has been the radar for Sarasota County–which banned the sale of kratom at convenience stores last year along with synthetic marijuana– and Palm Beach County, where the commission has wrestled for more than a year on whether to ban the herb–which can have combat fatigue but in high doses can have sedative narcotic effects — or just require stores to place warning signs.

Now the Senate delves into the issue on Tuesday when the Criminal Justice Committee will take up SB 764, by Sen. Greg Evers. The bill would add kratom to the list of Schedule I controlled substances, meaning substance is considered to have a high potential of abuse and has not current accepted use for medical treatment in the United States and does not meet medical safety standards.The bill would make it a third degree felony for anyone to posses, sell or possess with the intent to sell.

However, a strike all amendment awaits the measure. If adopted the bill would place kratom in the Schedule V, meaning that there is a low potential for abuse and has a currently accepted use for medical treatment in the United States. Additionally, only those under the age of 21 who posses, sell, manufacture or deliver kratom would face low-end misdemeanor charges.

A similar bill, HB 287, has been filed in the House by Rep. Kristin Jacobs.

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