RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The General Assembly has unanimously adopted Virginia’s first regulations for kratom, a controversial opioid alternative sold in stores across the state.
The Indonesian herb, sold in gas stations, head shops, and online pharmacies, has been found to help with pain relief and opioid withdrawal symptoms — but the FDA has also issued warnings about the dangers it may pose.
Now, the state is set to adopt bare-bones regulations on the product, banning the sale of kratom to anyone under the age of 21 and requiring manufacturers to add a label reading: “This product may be harmful to your health, has not been evaluated by the FDA, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.“
Still, Sage Giles, a frequent kratom user and Virginia resident, said she welcomes the new law.
“It’s not perfect,” she said. “But I love that this is a starting point and will make people think.”
Giles said she struggled for years with mental health issues and found only limited success with traditional psychiatric drugs. When she first started using kratom, she said, “I went, oh, I don’t mind doing my job.”
Still, she said she had to do a month of research to find a reputable seller and still cuts back periodically, just to be on the safe side.
“I think with the proper labeling, it will be a lot easier,” she said.
The regulations passed by the General Assembly this week are much more limited than those originally proposed by Delegate Hyland “Buddy” Fowler (R-Hanover), which would have required producers to certify that their kratom was unadulterated and to add recommended serving information.
Representatives of the American Kratom Association, an industry group, also welcomed the law, but said they hope the General Assembly will adopt more robust regulations in the future.
“It helps, there’s no question,” they said. “We hope to come back and strengthen this law later.”