3 months ago

History of kratom legality in Florida

Sarasota banned kratom relatively early on–-before there were even many studies on kratom. It passed a county ordinance illegalizing kratom in January 2014. They classified it as a “designer drug,” along with spice and bath salts. This categorization reflects a misunderstanding of kratom, which is a natural plant; not a synthetic drug.

Under this law, it’s illegal to buy, sell, possess or consume kratom in Sarasota County. It’s a misdemeanor to possess kratom, so you could face a $500 fine or 60 days in jail if you’re passing through Sarasota County and kratom is found on you.

Over 600 Florida citizens protested the ban, pointing out that kratom isn’t a synthetic drug, but a plant that has been used for millennia. Unfortunately, the bill didn’t cause county leaders to reverse the decision.

Attempted Kratom Bans in Florida

Although the state government in Florida stands by certain rights for its citizens, recent legislation has moved in a direction of limiting certain things that were formerly unharmed by legislation. Both the Senate and the House received bills that aimed to make kratom illegal in 2016 (SB 11 and HB 73) and 2017 (SB 24 and HB183).

These bills were not passed, as they lacked supporting evidence, but the sentiment against kratom felt amongst the legislators was not quelled.

In 2019, there was another attempted kratom ban in St. Johns County, Florida. This didn’t gain enough support but it sparked a debate over kratom legislation. The county’s commission is worried about the FDA’s warning that kratom has properties similar to opioids, despite the fact that kratom is over 1000 times less likely to cause death from overdose than opioids.

Regulating Kratom in Florida 2021

A much better alternative to banning kratom is to regulate it, according to the guidelines developed by the American Kratom Association’s Kratom Consumer Protection Act. This act is meant to keep kratom legal while regulating it for quality control (to prevent things like salmonella contamination).

In March 2021, Democrat Senator Bobby Powell introduced a bill to regulate kratom in Florida based on the Kratom Consumer Protection Act. This bill would have the following requirements:

  • Kratom sellers would need to register with the Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services
  • To buy kratom, you’d have to be 21 years of age or older
  • Kratom couldn’t contain any synthetic substances or contaminants that could endanger the buyer
  • Kratom products couldn’t pass a threshold of 2% for one specific alkaloid, 7-hydroxymitragynine
  • No instructions for dosage could be included with kratom products
  • $500 penalty for the first offense for not following these rules, and up to $1000 for a second offense

Unfortunately, this bill died in April 2021. Kratom remains legal in Florida, but with a lack of regulation, it’s uncertain whether or not Florida legislators will make kratom illegal down the road.

Keep Kratom Legal in Florida

It’s not a good practice for government officials and county leaders to propose kratom bans based on minimal facts. There has been a major push for kratom research in the past five years, and the results indicate that kratom may be a much safer alternative to prescription opioids. It could save lives.

The University of Florida College of Pharmacy received two grants worth close to $7 million for kratom research led by Christopher McCurdy. These grants will fund seven years of research, which could provide crucial insights into kratom’s alkaloids that could support its safety. The Florida research team has already found positive results on kratom’s benefits, but there’s still the pressure of a kratom ban in Florida before the research is complete.

Contact the Florida State Senators and find your Florida Representative to email them or write them a letter on your stance on kratom, how it helps you or a loved one, and why a bill regulating kratom is important to pass. Contact the Sarasota Health Department to urge them to make kratom legal.

Join the Keep Kratom Legal Facebook group to follow the news on kratom legality.

  • Everywhere but Sarasota County