Texas lawmakers allow access to safe kratom with new law

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American and Texas state flags flying on the dome of the Texas State Capitol building in Austin

In the wake of a failed attempt last legislative session, Texas lawmakers codified protections for kratom with what could quite literally be described as a ‘Texas Two-Step.’ Texas becomes the 10th state to pass the Kratom Consumer Protection Act.

A proposal to establish the Kratom Consumer Protection Act failed during a previous session, yet instead of retreating, the sponsors of the measure came back with a vengeance. In this session, identical measures were introduced in a bipartisan fashion, which helped power the bill through the legislature before becoming a law with the signature of Gov. Greg Abbott. 

Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D) sponsored the effort in the previous legislative session and had a matching bill introduced by Rep. J.M. Lozano (R) in the state’s House of Representatives. The version in the House was passed by a vote of 118-11, yet the same bill died in the Senate after it was placed on the “local & uncontested calendar.”

This time, the bill started by making its way through the Senate, where it was rushed through the upper house thanks to a vote to suspend Texas’ three-day rule. Per state law, a bill must be read on three different days before being enacted into law, but that can be bypassed by a four-fifths vote of the house the bill is being heard in.

The vote wound up 28-2 in support of the measure. With the support from the same Senate that killed the bill the previous session, Zaffirini said at the time she was hopeful it could make its way to the governor’s desk.

“We are cautiously optimistic about our success on our second attempt, especially because the bill was recommended unanimously by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services,” Zaffirini said.

One of the key differences with this effort was the level of bipartisan support. The first time Zaffirini introduced the bill in the Senate, she had no co-sponsors, and Zaffirini herself was the lone co-sponsor of Lozano’s bill. In this legislative session, Lozano was joined by Rep. Angelina Orr (R) as a co-sponsor on the version of the bill in the Senate. 

Lozano again introduced an identical bill in the House, sponsored by Orr and Rep. Elizabeth Campos (D). Since the bill passed in the Senate first, that bill was transmitted to the House for consideration. 

With the strong bipartisan support in the House, that bill version was read on consecutive days last week, and passed by a vote of 125-14. On Tuesday, it was officially signed in both chambers of the legislature and sent to the governor’s desk. 

For Zaffarini, this piece of legislation protects kratom consumers across Texas and safeguards them from the dangers of an unregulated market. 

“Given the dangerous threat posed to our communities by illegal fentanyl, and the knowledge that Texas has led the country in the number of kratom buyers for the last five years, we must ensure the regulated sale of only unadulterated kratom,” she said. 

As far as the text of the actual bill, Texas now finds itself with one of the more comprehensive Kratom Consumer Protection Acts after the governor signed the bill into law on May 5.

Like other KCPAs, this version calls for strict labeling and manufacturing standards, including financial penalties for those who violate the conditions. The bill is similar to others in banning synthetic alkaloids but includes a section that has been amended out of versions in other states. 

Per the law, the label requirements include dosage and use instructions, and cannot contain a potency of 7-hydroxymitragine “greater than two percent of the overall” composition of the product. 

It also goes as far as to include those who “advertises, represents, or holds oneself out as a person who sells kratom products” accountable as a “kratom retailer” and anyone who “advertises, represents, or holds oneself out as a manufacturer, preparer or seller of kratom products” as a “kratom processor.” That means that every part of the production chain can be held financially responsible for adulterated or otherwise prohibited products. 

At the same time, it includes a clause that retailers can avoid these fines “due to the kratom retailer’s good faith reliance on the representation of another kratom processor,” which gives flexibility to retailers. 

Mac Haddow, the senior policy fellow with the American Kratom Association, told local television station KXAN that the comprehensive nature of Texas’ KCPA will bring order to the dangers of an unregulated market. Regardless of the intentions of bad actors, Haddow said the proposed measure will hold them accountable, should the governor sign it into law. 

“It’s the wild west in this marketplace. So you have bad actors that are [selling] products that are spiked. And they’re not trying to kill people, but they put [things, like] fentanyl, in it because the natural kratom product doesn’t give you a euphoric high,” Haddow said. “People want to sell more products. If they can juice it up a little bit, they do it.”

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