RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Even as the General Assembly is poised to pass its first ever regulations on the sale of kratom, a controversial alternative to opioids, advocates for the Indonesian herb are calling for stronger action.
SB 1108 was passed unanimously by the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee on Feb. 20, meaning that it now needs only to pass on the floor of the house and receive the governor’s signature to become law.
Another attempt to regulate kratom was shut down in a house committee earlier this month, with Delegate Danica Roem (D – Manassas Park) raising concerns over the safety of the narcotic.
She cited an FDA report that reads, in part, “FDA is concerned that kratom, which affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine, appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence.”
But advocates have cited a conflicting WHO report which found that although there was some potential of abuse for kratom, there was little evidence that the drug was actively dangerous or particularly addictive.
The new senate bill set to reach the House floor this week would require manufacturers to add a label to their kratom — which is available in head shops and gas stations across the commonwealth — with a panel 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.“
It would also ban the sale of kratom to anyone under the age of 21.
A representative of the American Kratom Association (AKA) told 8News they see the law as just the first step in enacting strong consumer protections for the emerging industry.
“It helps, there’s no question,” they said. “We hope to come back and strengthen this law later.”
A more extensive set of regulations were struck down along with the earlier house bill, which would have added a requirement to list ingredients and set fines for selling kratom cut with other controlled substances or substituted with synthetic additives.
That bill, the AKA said, was stalled due to a “misunderstanding” with some delegates on a house committee — but they hope the more stringent regulations will be considered during future General Assembly sessions.
“The important thing is we were able to put in legislation that protects consumers,” they said.