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First it was pill mills, then it was bath salts; now it’s Kratom

Is Kratom next up in the controlled substance cavalcade?

The battle usually begins with an outrageous anecdote. A shady doctor prescribing pain pills from a golf course; a deranged man spiked up on some “bath salt” derivative and chewing off someone’s face; or a shocking suicide by a young man with a bright future.

First, it was the fight to shut down pill mills. Then, in 2012 lawmakers cracked down on so-called “bath salts” and related quasi-legal drugs by making them a part of the Schedule I suite of drugs. (Schedule I meaning, of course, that even docs can’t write a prescription for it.) Each of these fights was preceded by a rise in the level of use and then abuse – and then the headline quaking anecdote follows.

Is Kratom next?

There have been reports of so-called kava bars serving up Kratom cocktails and the web is starting to become populated with sites promoting the health benefits (“it will give you energy” and “it will calm your nerves.”) and how it eases the transition off more widely-known and highly addictive drugs. These “all natural” tea shops are popping up next door to urban rehab centers in South Florida and, as a result, the locals are trying to do what the U.S. military has already done: shut down access to what is known in some circles as “nature’s speedball.”

But so far, only one county (Sarasota) has succeeded.

In the Legislature, Senator Greg Evers and Representative Kristin Jacobs are now pushing respective bills to make Kratom the 176th item listed among Florida’s Schedule I drugs, effectively making it illegal.

If you’ve watched this drill before, you know this will spur the usual back and forth: ”the drug is extremely safe” versus “it’s a killer”…”it’s all natural” versus, “so is arsenic”…”it is legal in many parts of the world” versus “so is prostitution”…”it’s an over-reaching nanny-state trying to over-regulate perfectly safe behavior among adults” versus, “tell that to the parents of a dead child” and so on.

The feds are weighing in and are seizing large caches of the stuff (last fall, the U.S. FDA seized 25,000 pounds) calling it, “a botanical substance that poses a risk to public health and has the potential for abuse.” And here at home, with the introduction of these two bills, we should expect this back-and-forth to commence any day now.

Look for the Kratom Wars to soon get underway. will be keeping a close eye on this issue and would welcome any additional input about Kratom.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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