In Short

Legislature moves towards approval of a bill that would regulate kratom

By: - March 2, 2022 12:20 pm

Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, said a proposal on kratom now has backing from Gov. Kate Brown, who vetoed a similar proposal last year. (Ron Cooper/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

A proposal that passed the state House on Wednesday would give Oregon consumers of kratom more assurance about the safety of these products.

House Bill 4010 would regulate the manufacturing and sales of kratom, which is sold in various forms and used as a stimulant or painkiller. The proposal would require processors and retailers to register with the state Department of Revenue. The agency would be in charge of devising testing and other rules regulating the industry. The bill would make it a misdemeanor to sell kratom to those under 21 and require processors to certify that their products are tested to ensure they’re not adulterated. 

Retailers would be banned from selling kratom products that are from companies not registered with the state. The Department of Revenue expects fewer than 20 processors to register.

One of them, PDX Aromatics, a Portland-based company selling coffee, tea and essential oils, filed testimony supporting the bill, saying it would ensure that kratom sold to the public is not contaminated.

“While a number of companies like ours have adopted robust quality standards and have chosen to participate in programs that require adherence to good manufacturing practices, many have not,” wrote Jenn Lauder, director of marketing and advocacy for PDX Aromatics. “Some will not, unless and until they are forced to. In the meantime, even one irresponsible vendor is too many. Their reluctance to consider consumer safety endangers public health and puts the entire industry at risk.”

In 2018, several companies – including PDX Aromatics – recalled kratom products after the Food and Drug Administration found salmonella in them. Nearly 200 people got sick and 50 were hospitalized, with cases in 41 states, including Oregon, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

California, Washington and Oregon had the highest numbers of sick people, with 13 each in Oregon and California and 16 sickened in Washington.

Kratom comes from the leaves of a tree native to southeast Asia. They are chewed, brewed or crushed into a bitter green powder sold in the U.S. as pills, capsules, teas or extracts. In low doses, kratom is a stimulant; in higher doses, it is a sedative and is used to treat pain or for opioid cessation. It is also used recreationally.  

Last year, the Legislature passed another bill banning the sale of kratom to those younger than 21 and putting the state Department of Agriculture in charge of regulations, including testing and labeling standards. Gov. Kate Brown vetoed it. The current bill resolves her issues by putting the Department of Revenue in charge, Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, said before the vote.

 

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Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.

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