TOPEKA, Kan. — Hundreds of Kansas stores sell Kratom, a controversial herbal extract from Southeast Asia that some people use to treat chronic pain. A new proposal being weighed by the state senate would ensure that the product is protected from harmful additives.
The substance has received pushback from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has labeled Kratom unsafe for human consumption given its psychoactive and euphoric properties.
However, many people that advocate for its use have pointed to its health benefits, and say it could be the key to battling the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Mac Haddow, Senior Fellow on Public Policy for the American Kratom Association said, when used correctly, it can help people wane off of opioids.
In his testimony to Kansas lawmakers, Haddow noted a longstanding battle with the FDA over whether the plant is safe to use.
“That truly is why we are here today. To protect the freedom of Kansas citizens to make informedMAC HADDOW, AMERICAN KRATOM ASSOCIATION
decisions on their health and well-being without the overreaching regulatory power the FDA is trying to
While the FDA has pushed for Kratom to be listed as a “Schedule 1” drug in the past, joining the ranks of other substances like marijuana, they have not been successful.
In 2016, the FDA submitted a recommendation to classify two primary compounds found in the kratom plant as a dangerous substance, based on claims of overdoses. However, the DEA withdrew its scheduling notice.
Haddow said the FDA was “wrong on the science and the policy,” attributing any overdose deaths and euphoric highs to “adulterated Kratom” or “bad actors” that have spiked the products with harmful chemicals.
That’s why Haddow said his organization is pushing to eliminate those dangerous products from the marketplace.
“They’re doing the job that the FDA should be doing, but refuses to do,” Haddow told Kansas Capitol Bureau on Friday.
A bill, HB 2056, currently being reviewed in the state senate’s Federal and State Affairs Committee would amend the Kansas Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to regulate products containing kratom. This would make sure that the products being sold in stores are pure and properly labeled. It would also only allow the products to be sold to adults 18 years of age or older.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture stood in opposition to the plan, echoing the sentiments of the FDA in testimony.
“While KDA should be able to implement the requirements of HB 2056, the requirements placed uponKenneth Titus, Chief Counsel Kansas Department of Agriculture
KDA and kratom dealers will not guarantee that kratom is safe for the public to consume. According to
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), kratom cannot be legally marketed in the United States
as a drug or dietary supplement even though it is often advertised to have medicinal benefits.”
The department estimated that there are about 300 kratom dealers in Kansas.
Kratom is not currently regulated, but some people in the industry say that they would “welcome” that insight to make sure that the substance being sold to vendors is safe.
“That way it’s going to raise all the safety standards for everyone across the board. It’s going to make sure that we’re offering drug safe clean products,” said Todd Underwood, President of Triumph Botanicals, a manufacturer in Kansas City.
Underwood used kratom to help relieve chronic pain due to muscular dystrophy. According to Underwood, at one point he was taking 12 painkillers each day, and receiving cortisone shots every two months.
He said safety of the product is a priority.
“You want to make sure you’re dealing with a well-ran company that has good safety standards, that you’re doing lab reports, clinical analysis on what’s in your product,” Underwood said.
The current bill passed the House last year with 97 voting in favor and 24 against the plan.
If the bill is approved by the senate committee, it will move to the floor for debate.