House panel votes to ban ‘kratom’
A House committee today unanimously passed a bill that would ban a drug currently used in “kava bars” but seen as some as a dangerous addictive substance.
Rep. Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, said her bill would make the possession or selling of kratom, a Southeast Asian herbal leaf, a first-degree misdemeanor.
“People who were former heroin addicts have been told that kratom is a substance that is healthy. It comes from a plant, and because it is not synthetic, it is somehow healthy. I would remind you that cocaine comes from a plant as well,” Jacobs said.
Kratom is a currently legal substance found in an herbal leaf and commonly served as a tea.
The bill (HB 73) would classify kratom as “schedule 1” controlled substance, which includes drugs with a high potential for abuse and with no currently accepted medical use.
Georgia, New York and New Jersey are considering legislation to make use of kratom a felony.
The Sarasota County Commission voted in 2014 to ban kratom.
“I really don’t know what else to say except that you’re talking about a civil liberties issue, taking away a plant that people use that’s very similar to coffee and making them criminals,” said Christy McDonald, who uses the drug and is the mother of two.
While the Drug Enforcement Administration states that there is no legitimate medical use for kratom in the U.S., users report that it has a variety of medical uses including pain relief, alleviation of depression and anxiety and lowering blood pressure.
The substance is also commonly mixed with ground kava root and served as a basic ingredient in “kava bars.”
Michael Antinori, a West Palm Beach lawyer representing kava bars, defended their legitimacy and their efforts to develop goodwill in their communities, which he argued could not be taken away without good reason. He criticized the bill as “an unjustified taking of property, of hardworking legitimate entrepreneurs.”
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Antinori cited an FDLE study that found “kratom does not currently constitute a significant risk of safety and welfare to Florida residents.”
However, staff analysts reported that kratom has been linked to seizures and respiratory depression, and found that death is rare but possible.
Surgical nurse Linda Mautner of Boynton Beach lost her son after he developed a Kratom addiction.
“His dreams were my dreams, I have no other children, every day is an effort for me to get out of bed, and I attribute his death to kratom,” Mautner said.
“I watched my son go through such horrible withdrawals on this, that he had restless leg syndrome, a runny nose, he would slur his speech sometimes, he would cry out to me, and he was having horrible, horrible nightmares, hearing voices,” Mautner said. “And my son actually committed suicide on the day that he was confronted by his grandmother.”
After advising the bills co-sponsors to work with the businesses that would be affected, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee unanimously voted 13-0 in favor of the bill.
An identical bill (SB 1182) is currently pending in the Senate.
– Is it possible for politicians to be so out of touch? Do they realize the people they are hurting? Or only the people they are helping? – Drug Companies. 13-0 vote? Really?
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Thanks – Be Well – Doc Kratom & Friends!