Across the United States, millions of people rely on kratom for its health-benefitting properties and recreational opportunities. Revered for centuries in its native lands of Southeast Asia, kratom, a preparation of the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree, began to be imported into the U.S. in the early 2000s. After just a few years, it is estimated that five million or more users can be found in the U.S. alone.
Along with the rise in popularity and use of kratom, push back by state and federal regulatory agencies have increased in recent years. On the federal level, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed a reclassification of kratom as a Schedule 1 drug. Proposals to limit or ban the importation and distribution of kratom were also proposed, but after a public outcry, including prominent members of the scientific and medical communities, the ban proposal was dropped.
On the state level, a number of states have banned kratom. Several other states, including Florida and Louisiana, are continuing to study whether the substance should be classified as a dangerous drug or banned outright. In Tennessee, the state’s General Assembly reached a compromise between two competing bills, allowing continued legality of kratom for users 21 or over. Tennessee lawmakers worked in concert with advocacy groups like the Kratom Trade Association and the Botanical Education Alliance. Lawmakers also took the opportunity to listen to consumers in the state, agreeing that a balance between safety and consumer rights was the best path forward. By upholding state residents’ rights to purchase and consume kratom, Tennessee serves as a shining example for other states, many of which are exploring potential bans or limits to the availability of this natural botanical substance.
The Tennessee compromise allows kratom in its raw powdered leaf form to be purchased and consumed by state residents aged 21 or over. The compromise also set forth labeling requirements for kratom retailers.
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