SALEM — Oregon lawmakers looking at regulating the drug kratom, currently sold without any rules or oversight at gas stations and corner markets around the state.
Kratom is made from the leaves of a tree native to southeast Asia and, when ingested, can have effect similar to both a stimulant and an opioid.
The effort to regulate kratom in Oregon coincides with growing attention to the substance by states and the federal government. A year ago, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned that kratom contains opioid compounds and said the federal agency had determined kratom was involved in 44 deaths.
Kratom advocates counter that they have successfully used the substance to treat chronic pain and, in some cases, to deal with symptoms of withdrawal from opioid addiction. They have a national organization, the American Kratom Association, and they’ve hired an Oregon lobbyist, Sam Chapman. Chapman is also a marijuana industry consultant, a member of Portland’s Cannabis Policy Oversight Team and a lobbying for pot businesses advocating for the state to legalize cannabis cafes.
The Oregon proposal would prohibit sales of kratom to anyone under 21 years old and task the Oregon Department of Agriculture with regulating production, labeling and testing of kratom.
It would also broadly define “food” to include not just food and drink, but also chewing gum and any “supplement for special dietary use that is necessitated because of a physical, physiological, pathological or other condition” — such as kratom.
The legislation would limit the amount of one component of kratom, 7-hydroxymitragynine, that could be contained in products told in Oregon.
Last year, researchers in Florida and South Carolina wrote in the journal of the Society for the Study of Addiction that this substance “should be considered a kratom constituent with high abuse potential that may also increase the intake of other opiates.” The researchers wrote that another component of kratom, mitragynine, showed some promise in aiding treatment for opiate addiction and withdrawal symptoms.
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