North Carolina Pioneers Unique Kratom Regulations in HB563 Bill

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

North Carolina State House of Representatives Chamber, where North Carolina kratom regulation is passed,

Several states have already taken a crack at their versions of a Kratom Consumer Protection Act during the early legislative sessions across the United States. As we head into the second half of the year, North Carolina is taking a run at its kratom protections to show there are multiple ways to accomplish the same goal. 

Regulations for kratom are part of a bill focused on “hemp-derived consumable products and kratom products” that would protect North Carolina consumers with robust regulations. A slow start to the process has picked up steam after a favorable recommendation from a House of Representatives committee, setting the stage for North Carolina legislators to consider the passage of a unique, yet comprehensive approach to kratom regulation. 

The proposed law, House Bill 563, is supported by a group of 11 sponsors, including seven Republicans and four Democrats. At a committee hearing, Rep. Jeffery McNeely spoke on behalf of the bill and referred to the measure as “helping to do quality control in a backward method.” 

Breakdown of the Bill

In other states that have established a KCPA per state law, there is no better way to explain the process than ‘backward quality control.’  There are slight tweaks state-by-state but for the most part, the main details remain the same: Advocates envision regulated markets as those that 1) put regulations in place to ensure adulterated kratom does not make it to market, 2) provide clear labels and instructions for consumers and 3) limit specific factors such as required age of purchase and specific levels of alkaloids in kratom products for sale. 

Some states opt for more rigid regulations, others prefer a simple set of rules without much meat. North Carolina’s attempt is unlike any other but still falls on the same principles of kratom regulation that have been passed in other states. 

For starters, HB563 is split into two halves, starting with a robust set of regulations and definitions to help refine the state’s legal market for cannabinoids. Kratom is not a cannabinoid and has little in common with such products other than the fact kratom products are also derived from natural plants. 

That appears to be enough of a link for lawmakers to lump the two into one bill. 

Article 2 of the proposed law is titled “Regulation of Kratom Products” and begins with a section on rules for the sale of kratom products and how retailers must attain a license and adhere to distribution standards for kratom sales. Rather than the simple, straightforward language of other KCPAs, this proposed law mimics the detailed language for other regulatory industries, including specifics of the “unlawful” behavior of individuals attempting to purchase kratom. 

Whereas lawmakers in other states have criticized kratom legislation for targeted language, HB563 is a comprehensive piece of legislation that attempts to establish kratom as an industry worthy of regulation similar to other food ingredients and products meant for human consumption. 

Beyond the regulations surrounding the purchase of kratom products, the proposed measure also makes it illegal to sell adulterated products and lays out a regulatory structure to license producers, limit synthetic alkaloids and set a maximum for overall alkaloid composition. In short: Even in this unique format, lawmakers in North Carolina are still proposing laws that “listen to the science” in the words of advocates. 

Different Industries, Similar Challenges

The juxtaposition of kratom with “hemp-derived consumable products” is also interesting for advocates. Despite the difference in effect, federal status and chemical composition of the two plant-based products, the regulatory challenges present similar hurdles. The similarities in regulation are amplified when you consider that many of the “hemp-derived” products covered by the proposed law in North Carolina are already legal and sold in similar locations as kratom. 

While those opposed to kratom and other herbal supplements have tried to paint a picture contrary to science, advocates ask for similar conditions: Clear access to safe, unadulterated products. 

In response to the proposed laws in Article 1 of HB563, a local store owner told WRAL that he supports the law because it focuses on protecting customers rather than trying to tell them what to do with their own dietary decisions. 

“Even though a lot of people are against being told what to do and how to do it, this will really help the consumers to understand that what they’re buying is safe and keep them out of the hands of underage children,” said Matt Mitchell.

Even though there are many differences between kratom and the hemp-derived consumable covered by HB563, the response to the first half of the proposed law feels eerily similar to the discussion that has taken place around kratom regulation in other states. By creating a law that holds manufacturers accountable, another local store owner hopes such a measure would help small businesses continue to provide quality products to their customers. 

Emma Macadam told WRAL that she hopes any legislation of products mentioned in HB563 would create a safe, sustainable market for all parties involved. Although her comments were about products covered in Article 1 of the proposed measure, Macadam’s remarks echoed the sentiments of kratom consumers and retailers in similar situations. 

“There’s a lot of low-quality products that are being sold at gas stations and certain shops. That responsibility falls on the store owners when they take in products,” she said. “I just hope that everyone gets a shot. I’m a small store; I’m owner-operated. I don’t have some of the resources that other stores have that have many locations.”

To see the kratom legality in your state, check out our hand kratom legality map.

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