The patchwork of Kratom legalization laws is poised to add a key piece with a ‘swing state’ of herbal policy eyeing the subject.
Michigan lawmakers are set to take up the question of how to regulate Kratom, becoming the latest of a handful of states to take a closer look at the herbal supplement. Rather than debating the legality of Kratom, Michigan is looking to establish a cannabis-like regulation infrastructure, which could have larger implications for the future of Kratom in the United States.
A bill introduced by Michigan state representative Lori Stone (D-Warren) would require a license to sell and manufacture Kratom, would require raw material testing and would increase customer warnings on the labels of Kratom products. It would also limit use of Kratom to adults. The bill has cosponsors from both sides of the aisle, and would take effect Jan. 1 should it make its way through the legislature.
Stone called the measure a “common sense” approach but also acknowledged how Kratom can be safely used by many consumers. By creating a more rigid structure for regulating Kratom, Stone said the state would be protecting those at risk of abusing the substance, especially young people.
The state agency responsible for licensing and regulation disagrees.
During a Senate Regulatory Reform committee meeting, a representative of the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) said that more research is required before legislating Kratom. Derek Sova is a legislative specialist with the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency, and spoke on behalf of LARA to tell the committee that it is “simply premature” to codify a regulatory agency and commit resources to the process of licensing and regulation.
Sova said that LARA would monitor research and keep its position fluid. At the moment, though, without health experts and other states indicating a need for such regulation, Sova said it is too early for the agency to support a formal regulation apparatus.
Kratom is currently banned in six states, and has been the subject of discussion in a number of state houses and local municipalities in recent months. Last month, Ascension Parish in Louisiana became the first in the state to ban the sale of Kratom. Last week, another parish followed in their footsteps.
At the time, a city council member weighed in about concerns around the purity and safety of the Kratom available locally. That sentiment was echoed by Mac Haddow from the American Kratom Association, who told the council that Kratom “does not have the addiction liability, nor does it pose a health risk to the American people.”
The back-and-forth nature of Kratom laws is why Michigan’s impending decision on regulation could be vital to the future of the industry. Michigan, and some of it’s largest cities, have some of the most favorable laws for herbal medical remedies, including the decriminalization of psychedelics in Detroit, Ann Arbor and other Michigan cities. In a recent guest commentary piece for Bridge Michigan, one resident of the state spoke to her experience with Kratom.
Melody Woolf penned an article about her own experience with kratom, and was explicit about how the supplement had improved her quality of life. Woolf tried to see specialists at the state’s universities, and had tried other treatment paths for her ailments, but said it wasn’t until she discovered Kratom that she was able to get control of her life back. Before Kratom, Woolf said she struggled with having to use a walker or wheelchair, but since finding Kratom, she was able to be more present in her own life as well as the activities of close family members.
“My story is just one example of why there should be continued research and regulation into kratom and its uses. Kratom has helped me and my family significantly, and I want to make sure that anyone struggling to find solutions elsewhere can have safe, continued access to kratom.”