A comprehensive version of a Kratom Consumer Protection Act, a bill for kratom regulation in Massachusetts, was introduced in the legislature at the beginning of the year, and picked up enough momentum to have a formal hearing earlier this week. Now the ‘Kratom Question’ of what type and how much regulation is needed will be parsed out among legislatures with advocates hoping Massachusetts can make it a clean dozen for states who have passed a version of the KCPA.
Rep. Daniel Hunt authored H3762, a bill setting detailed regulations for kratom’s definition, requirements for kratom products and an age minimum required for purchase. More specifically, H3762 would define kratom as a food product or dietary ingredient and sets a simple three-tiered structure of fines for those who violate the regulations laid out in the proposed law.
On the heels of other states passing more limited versions of KCPAs, the one proposed in Massachusetts covers the entire spectrum of issues that have been addressed in similar legislation. The law would establish requirements for labeling, including a recommended serving size and the name and address of the manufacturer. It would also make it illegal to prepare or sell adulterated products or kratom products that have excess solvents/potency above a specific threshold.
Due to the way the Massachusetts legislature is structured, the House steered the bill to the Judiciary, and when the Senate concurred that decision, it was sent to the joint Judiciary Committee for a public hearing.
That hearing took place earlier this week, where Massachusetts legislators were witness to just the latest episode of a series that has played out in state houses across the country. Three of the four witnesses had already testified in multiple states before appearing in front of the joint Judiciary committee.
Mac Haddow, a senior policy fellow with the American Kratom Association, presented a similar refrain around recent research and emerging scientific evidence that suggests regulating kratom is the best path for public health, mostly due to the risk of adulterated products. On the opposite side of testimony was family members of individuals who claimed to have lost loved ones to kratom.
During Haddow’s testimony, he addressed the issue of kratom’s safety, and said the leading risk of serious adverse reaction came from advantageous sellers who were not selling pure, unadulterated kratom products.
If the bill became law, H3762 would make it a criminal penalty to manufacture or sell such products.
Consumer-advocate and podcast host Mike Overstreet testified to the committee about kratom’s safety profile and his own experience with kratom. Beyond presenting emerging scientific data and customer experiences, Overstreet made sure to begin with a focused point: Codifying kratom keeps consumers away from interactions with law enforcement.
Overstreet told the committee about two separate cases in states that had decided to schedule kratom. In Alabama, Shaina Brown was arrested as she crossed the border from Florida, a state that recently passed its own version of a barebones KCPA. Officers discovered kratom in Brown’s possession, and charged her with drug trafficking over what Overstreet described as “tea bags” for personal use.
In Arkansas, another state that was swept up by the Food and Drug Administration’s guidance to schedule kratom in 2016, Marshall Price was arrested on similar charges. Shortly after being convicted and sentenced for less than $100 of kratom, Price died in the state’s custody. The case is currently under investigation.
Because of those cases, and the lack of clarity at the federal level, Overstreet contended that the 200,000 kratom customers in Massachusetts would benefit from a law that guaranteed protection under law.
As many legislative bodies across the country wrap up their sessions, the Massachusetts calendar runs until November 15, the final day for Formal Sessions. With the prolonged session, advocates are hoping to build on momentum from KCPAs that have passed during those early legislative calendars.
Florida is the latest state to pass its version of kratom protections, when Gov. Ron Desantis signed that bill into law earlier this month. That measure was introduced by a Republican lawmaker in a state that has skewed red in recent years. Texas also recently passed a KCPA in another Republican-led state, this time with a pair of bills that were introduced by a bipartisan coalition. Of the 181 legislators in Texas, only 16 voted no on the state’s comprehensive version of a KCPA.
Now, a Democrat from Boston is behind this kratom regulation in Massachusetts, showing the support that kratom advocates have found from across the political spectrum at the state level.
To support the Kratom Consumer Protection Act in Massachusetts, submit your testimony at https://www.protectkratom.org/massachusetts.