Ducey signs bill to stop kratom sales to minors

By: - May 2, 2019 3:35 pm

Photo by stockcatalogue | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a bill that regulates kratom in the Grand Canyon State.

“I signed this bill because it takes a small but important step of prohibiting the sale of kratom to minors,” Ducey said in a signing letter, “but let me be clear – my signature on this bill should not be viewed as an endorsement of its consumption by adults.”

Ducey added that he would be reaching out to federal agencies to urge them to “promptly” look at kratom and issue “appropriate regulations.”

“Several states and cities have already acted, and it is time the federal government takes action as well,” Ducey wrote.

Kratom is still undergoing evaluations by federal agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, and has been making some medical professionals nervous.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Tony Rivero, R-Peoria, disallows the sale of kratom to anyone under the age of 18 and requires sellers of the product to disclose what is in their kratom-based products.

The legislation is called the “Kratom Consumer Protection Act.”

Proponents of kratom, like Chandler resident Jeff Henry, applauded the measure.

Henry has been using kratom off and on for pain management for the past four years, and said one of his biggest fears is that the federal government will decide it should become illegal.

I don’t know what I would do. I think they’d force a lot of people back to dangerous drugs,” Henry said.

Henry said he has never used any illicit drugs and said he believes there is a lot of misinformation out around the plant-based product.

“It reminds me of Reefer Madness,” Henry said, referencing the 1936 film that overstated the dangers of marijuana, “and that worries me.”

Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a plant that is native to Southeast Asia and is related to the coffee plant.

The plant is often ground up into powder, which can be taken in pill form or turned into tea.

Ingesting the plant can give a stimulant effect in low doses, but it has a sedative effect in higher doses. The drug interacts with many of the same receptors in the brain that opioids do. Because of that, many advocates say kratom can be used as an alternative to opioids and can be a tool to fight opioid addiction.

Its been on the DEA’s radar since 2011, according to DEA spokeswoman Katherine Pfaff. The agency has had it listed as a “drug of concern” since then.

The DEA is currently waiting on the Food and Drug Administration to complete a medical and scientific review of the main components of kratom, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, before deciding whether to classify it as a Schedule I drug.

Under Arizona’s new kratom law, if the federal government decides to regulate kratom, the more stringent of the regulations would be enforced. For example, if the federal government decided that kratom could only be purchased by those 21 and older, that regulation would overrule Arizona’s age limit of 18.

Oregon is currently debating a similar measure, and Utah is poised to do the same.

Kratom is outright banned in five states and several municipalities across the country.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.