The final step in a drawn out saga ended last week with Florida becoming the 11th state to codify protections for a regulated kratom market, also known as the Kratom Consumer Protection Act.
What started as a back-and-forth between different approaches to legislating kratom markets turned into a race against time to get a compromise bill across the finish line. Despite the legislative session ending the first week of May, the bill finally made its way to the Governor’s desk on the 23rd, and the Florida Kratom Consumer Protection Act was signed into law on June 2nd.
While some advocates are likely already drawing up plans to finish what was started with this version of a KCPA, the good news is that it sets the state on a path toward consumer protections instead of making Florida the latest state to be duped by duplicitous messaging from the Food and Drug Administration.
As of July 1st, Florida will have kratom protections in the form of a law that defines kratom as a “food product, food ingredient, dietary supplement, or beverage intended for human consumption,” and requires that individuals be at least 21 years of age to purchase such products. There is no mention of the distribution process or of ensuring the purity of products, two key factors of the legislation as proposed, but it still takes a key step in settling a key component of the debate around kratom.
In the various analyses of the two measures that were proposed this session, warnings from the FDA were included in a manner similar to attempts to ban kratom in other states. Kratom currently has no approved medical use, and cannot be marketed as such in the United States, yet the language around the warnings attached to this bill cautioned against the potential use of the supplement for purposes beyond how it is advertised.
The notion that kratom can be used therapeutically has never been the contention of what advocates deem “responsible” kratom producers, and that was reflected in the language establishing kratom as simply a food ingredient and dietary supplement. By securing that language as part of a state law, it steers the conversation away from taking action against kratom as a potential medical treatment.
It took a complicated path, and a flurry of action in the final weeks of the session, to make sure at least any version of a KCPA became law in Florida.
Rep. Alex Andrade introduced his version of what was dubbed the “Florida Kratom Consumer Protection Act” on Jan. 11, two months before the regular session started, and was originally drafted as a comprehensive set of regulatory/distribution guidelines. Specifically, the law targeted adulterants and additives that advocates have said are behind most of the serious adverse effects associated with kratom use.
What made it through the Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee drastically shifted the bill, making it a measure to define kratom in state law and set the minimum age of purchase. On March 7, the first day of regular session, the bill had its first reading on the floor and was recommended favorably by the Commerce Committee the next day.
Then it sat for more than a month, before housekeeping amendments were added to the bill on April 20, and the measure was passed by the House unanimously a week later. That left less than two weeks for the bill to make it through the Senate, who received the bill on April 26, to come to finish the process.
The only friction came from the fact that the Senate was already considering a bill similar to the original effort penned by Andrade. A bill from Sen. Joe Gruters had been reported favorably out of the Fiscal Policy Committee by a vote of 18-1, and was scheduled for a second reading when the House bill arrived in the upper chamber.
Just days after it looked like Gruters’ effort could be moving forward, the Senate substituted the House version upon the second reading of Gruters bill. Gruters’ efforts to amend the bill back to a version more similar to what both legislators introduced fell short, leading to the full Senate passing the barebones version of the bill, also unanimously, the day before the regular session ended.
In a departure from the usual procedure, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who announced his presidential campaign on May 24, signed a bill on June 2, despite the busy nature of his campaign. Typically, bills are submitted to the Governor and have seven days for review and signing or vetoing by the state’s chief executive. However, amidst the flurry of the early stages of his presidential campaign, DeSantis managed to fulfill his duties as governor and sign the legislation.