STATE BY STATE UPDATE: 3/28/18
Tennessee, Georgia, Minnesota, Kansas
By: Chapman Action Network
The legal state of kratom in Tennessee has been a hot topic over the past few months. Two bills are currently moving through the legislature pertaining to kratom, House Bill 1832 & Senate Bill 2258.
HB 1832 has been amended (all language mentioning kratom has been removed) and passed out of the House Health Committee and onto the House Finance Ways & Means Subcommittee, where it was heard on Wednesday March 28th at 9am. It passed out of the subcommittee and is now on its way to the full Ways & Means Committee.
SB 2258, on the other hand, still contains language that would effectively make kratom illegal. An amendment has been introduced by Representative Pody. This bill has not moved in several weeks.
If the Senate Bill is not amended to reflect the House bill in committee, and moves to the floor, we suspect both bills will eventually end up in a conference committee, where each chamber will decide whether or not to conform to the other’s bill.
The speed at which these bills move is entirely up the committee chairs and how they decide to prioritize and schedule each bill as it pertains to their overall agenda for the session. It’s been made clear by many representatives in committees in both chambers that these are good bills that need to be passed for reasons above and beyond the concerns surrounding kratom.
GEORGIA (Action Needed!)
The slippery slope of “studying the negative effects of kratom” continues in the Georgia legislature, where FOUR separate bills have been introduced to form committees that would be organized specifically for that task.
HR1160 passed out of the House Chamber on 3/27 with 142 Yes Votes and 11 No votes.
The bill now moves over to the Senate chamber and is waiting to be assigned to a committee.
The bill’s sponsor, Representative Dwayne Hill, testified before the House Special Rules committee on 3/6 in support of the bill.
Rep. Hill mentioned that he’s been speaking with a local coroner who was informing him about the recent “deaths associated with kratom.” The coroner also pointed him towards the recent FDA statements made by Scott Gottlieb.
Several questions were posed to Rep. Hill that indicated this is not the first time members of this committee have heard about kratom. The last time kratom was brought up in the Georgia legislature, they received “an outpouring” of opposition from kratom consumers and ended up not taking any action.
Rep. Jonathan Wallace called Rep. Hill’s coroner claims into question by asking if other drugs were included in the deaths that were reported. Hill admitted that they were, and went on to say that all the cases contained levels of kratom that were higher than the other drugs, therefore we should ban it. In referring to people who use kratom, Rep. HIll stated “If they are taking one, they are taking two. If they are two, they are taking three,” seemingly attempting to paint all kratom consumers as people who are addicted and thus don’t deserve access to safe alternatives to prescription opioids.
House Committee member Scot Turner asked about the recent public comment period when the DEA attempted to emergency schedule kratom in 2016. Rep. Hill said that he “has not seen any reports on what they have accumulated from those comments.”
CALL TO ACTION: Please contact your Senator and urge them to AMEND HR 1160 to require the kratom study committee to take a true unbiased approach by researching the positive benefits of kratom along with potential negatives!
MINNESOTA (Good News!)
House File 3479 and Senate File 2578 have both been amended, striking the original language that would have made kratom illegal outright, and replacing it with sales and possession restrictions pertaining to minors.
You can listen to the audio from the Public Safety Committee meeting held on 3/22 where the amendment passed here, starting around the 33:00 minute mark.
Big thank you to the American Kratom Association for their on the ground lobbying efforts and all of the Minnesota resident who took the time to contact your representatives and committee members!
IMPORTANT REMINDER: The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy still has the authority to emergency schedule kratom is they choose to. Now might be a good time to research who your local Board of Pharmacy board members are and think about establishing a positive relationship with them.
KANSAS (Headed to conference committee)
Senate Bill 282 passed on the House floor on 3/27 with the 18+ amendment 121 Yes votes to 3 No votes!
The bill now heads to a conference committee. Here is the latest from the AKA regarding proposed action steps:
PROPOSED ACTION (via the AKA):
Kansas residents please do the following:
1) Contact Senator Vicki Schmidt (who is a member of the Conference Committee looking at reconciling the House and Senate versions) and ask her to support the amended House version of SB282 which removes kratom from the proposed list of controlled substances?
Here are the email addresses that people can use to contact Senator Schmidt:
It is important to remember that Senator Schmidt is a pharmacist, so has some medicinal background. From my understanding, she is very confrontational, so as always, people should treat her with respect when reaching out to her.
2) We also need folks to reach out to their State Senators in Kansas and ask them to support the amended House version that removes kratom.