On Tuesday, Florida’s House Criminal Justice Committee considered a bill, HB 287, to ban kratom, a drug made from the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa, which is a tree native to Southeast Asia. The proposed legislation would make kratom a Schedule I drug like heroin or LSD. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 divides drugs into five categories or “schedules” depending on how easy they are to abuse, how safe they are, and whether or not they are currently used as medicine.
Schedule I drugs, the most severe category, are defined as having no accepted medical use in the United States and a high potential for abuse. As a Schedule I drug, possessing, selling or possessing kratom with the intention of selling it would become third-degree felonies.
The House Criminal Justice Committee voted 13 – 0 to review the bill under Committee Substitute (CS) as per Rule 7.19(c) on March 25, 2015.
Rep. Kristin Jacobs, a Democrat, had introduced the bill on January 15, 2015. Doing so fulfilled a promise she had made during her campaign. The freshman representative had unsuccessfully tried to have kratom banned the previous year towards the end of her stint as a Broward County commissioner. Kratom is currently not scheduled at all under the Controlled Substances Act, and it has never been monitored through any national surveys of drug abuse. As a result, it’s not clear how many people in the U.S. use kratom, much less what percentage of those users overdose on it or have suffered other ill effects from using it.
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