For years kratom was considered de facto illegal due to a law on the books related to synthetic research chemicals. Towards the end of last year one of the sponsors of the bill made it clear that at no point did he believe raw leaf kratom should be illegal. After that the State Attorney General issued an official opinion that would fully clarify kratom's legality. Kratomites in the state were not out of the woods yet though. Governor Bill Haslam supported a bill that unanimously passed through the house that would have made kratom illegal once again just a matter of several weeks after the AG's ruling.
Tennessee General Assembly adjourned for the year on Wednesday of last week but not before a marathon 14 hour session in which legislators clashed on several issues. One issue in question was related to the legality of kratom. The governor had a bill related to opioids held up due to disagreement among legislators on kratom. Kratom is a Southeast Asian plant that is from the same botanical family as coffee. Millions worldwide use it for pain management, anxiety, sleep, fatigue issues, depression and other conditions. Depending on the strain, vein color and region it has different actions.
The Senate wanted to make kratom illegal, but a member of the House admitted that kratom had helped him pass several kidney stones. In addition to the above qualities, research shows kratom is a more potent antioxidant than green tea, acts as an immunostimulant and has other beneficial and nutritive qualities. The final version of the bill makes kratom legal, with some caveats. It may not be sold to anyone under the age of 21 and must be labeled as other supplements are. So the battle in Tennessee seems to be won for now, but debate still rages at the federal level and in multiple other states over the plant.
When the bill went to committee 3 house members and 3 senate members made a compromise. The report was drafted, signed by all committee members and filed in the Tennessee House and Senate. The bill passed on Friday by a vote of 86-2. Following is the Conference Committee Report:
Conference Committee Report on House Bill No. 1832 / Senate Bill No. 2258
The House and Senate Conference Committee appointed pursuant to motions to resolve the differences between the two houses on House Bill No. 1832 (Senate Bill No. 2258) has met and recommends that all amendments be deleted.
The Committee further recommends that the following amendment be adopted: by deleting Sections 10 and 11, substituting instead the following, and redesignating the subsequent sections accordingly:
SECTION 10. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-17-452(a), is amended by adding the following as a new subdivision (a)(3):
(A) It is an offense for a person to knowingly:
(i) Sell, or offer for sale, Kratom unless labeled and in its natural form; (ii) Distribute, sell, or offer for sale, Kratom to a person under the age of
twenty-one (21) years; or
(iii) Purchase or possess Kratom if under the age of twenty-one (21)
(B) For purposes of this subdivision (a)(3):
(i) "Labeled" means a label containing the manufacturer's information and a warning that includes, at a minimum, "Warning: Do not use if you are pregnant or nursing. It is illegal to possess Kratom if under 21 years of age. Consult your healthcare professional before using. Do not combine with alcohol or medication. Consult a doctor prior to usage if you have any heart disease, liver disorder, high blood pressure, or medical condition or take medication."; and
(ii) "Natural form" means dried, cut, and sifted Kratom leaf or raw Kratom leaf powder.