Did you recently get to know about kratom and are searching if you can easily find it or not in your state? This south Asian herb is widely and easily available across the globe but only in states where it is legal.
Due to a contentious federal legal status, it is banned in a few states of America, and it might be really impossible to find it there. But fortunately, if you are in Florida, this might not be the case for you, at least in many counties.
To cut short, kratom is legal in Florida but not in all counties. Sarasota is the only county where kratom is currently banned, but others have tried to ban it. That is why the legal status here in Florida is not that simple, and you might have to dig into details to have a clear understanding. Here is everything you need to know if bringing or consuming kratom in Florida.
Why Kratom’s Legal Status Is Too Complicated In Florida?
Kratom is not federally regulated, so every state has to decide whether to ban or allow the herb. Furthermore, even in the state, each county can pass its independent legislation against or in favor of the state policy.
In many other states, kratom is either banned or legal altogether, but in some like the sunshine state (common name for Florida), it is legal in the majority of the counties but banned in others like Sarasota. This means it remains legal for the state’s 21.48 million residents but restricted for 433 thousand living in Sarasota County.
It is, therefore, common for many individuals to mistakenly take kratom in Sarasota only to face legal complications. That is why they refer to the legal status of the herb as complicated. However, if you have already studied the legality of the herb, you may not have to face this situation.
Kratom Legality In Sarasota County, Florida
Sarasota County passed an ordinance in January 2014 banning kratom even when it was legal at the state level, making it illegal to possess, consume, buy or sell the herb. The bill came into action when the state officials passed legislation introducing designer drugs and also listed kratom among them. The ban was followed by setting high penalties in case of possession of this plant. If anyone was found possessing it, he would have to spend 60 days in jail or pay a fine of up to $500.
But what are these designer drugs, and how is kratom related to them? These drugs, according to DEA, are:
“Illegally synthesized drugs designed to mimic the effects and the chemical composition of scheduled substances. Drugs like Flakka, bath salts (synthetic cathinone), and spice (synthetic cannabinoids) fall into the category of designer drugs.”
The basic agenda of the bill is that kratom causes hallucination. It also used supporting facts like kratom is illegal in Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand to design a strong argument against the herb.
According to kratom advocates, this is a misrepresentation since designer drugs are synthetic substances, whereas kratom is a natural herb. They believe the ban is unjust and should be outlawed.
There have been efforts to outlaw immediately after the county officials passed the law in the form of a petition created on Change.org by the Botanical Legal Defense. The petition netted around 609 signatures, but they were not enough to outlaw the bill, unfortunately, they was not sufficient to overturn the legislation.
Kratom Legality In St. Johns County, Florida
It is often seen when the herb is banned in one of the counties of a state; kratom foes in other counties make a conscious effort to ban it in their counties too. We see a similar example in Florida. When Sarasota banned kratom, many other counties, including St. Johns and Broward, tried to follow suit. Fortunately, the state never processed these bans. Still, they are an indication that the kratom’s legal status in Florida might not be very safe unless there is the legislation regulating the herb at the state level.
An ad hoc “drug task force” lobbied for a kratom ban in early 2019 and the St. Johns County Commissioners held a meeting for a discussion on the issue. Since the meeting felt like early signs of a kratom ban in the county, several kratom users came forward to share their experiences regarding kratom. They all described kratom as beneficial, in fact, a miracle for them.
Hearing their testimonies, the commissioners dropped the idea of banning the South Asian herb lifting the potential threats to kratom availability. They voted 5-0 in favor of tabling any action until at least May, following the state Legislative session. One of the commissioners, “Jeb Smith, said he hasn’t convinced legislation at the local level would be an effective use of resources.”
Thus, kratom remained legal in the county and is still legal to buy, sell and possess in St. Johns County.
The Real-Life Story Of Ian Mautner In Florida
Before the efforts to ban kratom in St. Johns County, there were efforts to ban kratom in Broward County in 2016. The state officials presented 2 bills against the herb though none of them passed. The main activist of kratom bans in those times was a mother. Her main claim against kratom was that his son Ian Mautner committed suicide allegedly due to kratom addiction.
Ian Mautner was a 20-year-old man who had been taking kratom from a local kava bar since he was 17 years old. He committed suicide by jumping overpassing the bridge. On investigation, police discovered several opened and unopened kratom packs in his vehicle. His mother claims that he has been stealing kratom and has been in rehab to treat his addiction. She blamed kratom as the main culprit behind his son’s death.
However, later his autopsy results revealed the presence of various prescription anti-depressants in addition to kratom in his blood. He had been taking Citalopram. A side effect of this can be suicidal thoughts. He had also been taking Trazodone, an anti-depressant not recommended in combination with Citalopram.
Kratom representation calls it confusion and misunderstanding since anti-depressants have a long list of side effects. Ian’s mother is affiliating those side effects with kratom.
The deeper digs in this case also revealed that just before Ian committed suicide, his mother had prayed to drugs. Though there is no direct source confirming this, if this is true, then Ian’s mother could be using kratom as an excuse to cover her emotions.
Kratom Consumer Protection Act In Florida
There have been two other bills in Florida that intended to ban kratom. One was the HB 183, and the other was SB 424: Controlled Substances. Both of these bills intended to list kratom among the controlled substances. However, the lawmakers postponed the consideration of both of them for an indefinite period, and the bills did not come to action.
In 2021 Democrat senator Bobby Powell presented a bill as Florida Senate Bill 1978 to regulate kratom under the Florida Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA). It was introduced not only to keep kratom legal but to regulate it.
According To The Bill:
- Vendors have to register with the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services in order to be able to sell kratom products at retail,
- They cannot sell any kratom products to individuals who have not reached the age of 21,
- They cannot offer for sale any products that contain synthetic alkaloids or other synthetic kratom derivatives,
- There will be a ban on products that contain harmful, poisonous, or scheduled substances that may alter kratom properties,
- In terms of ingredients, vendors can only sell kratom that has less than 2% 7-hydroxy mitragynine content
- Vendors should also label the products with dose instructions,
- In case of non-compliance, they will have to pay a penalty of up to $500 for their first offense, and for the second or subsequent offense, they will have to pay $1000.
Following this, the sponsor of the bill FL S1978 passed additional legislation. The bill stated that Florida kratom vendors would pay an annual registration fee worth $500 to the Agricultural and Consumer Services department.
Unfortunately, both of these bills failed to pass in the Senate and died one month after their proposition in April 2020. Consequently, kratom wasn’t regulated but remained legal in the state except for Sarasota County.
Efforts To Regulate Kratom In Florida In 2023
As 2023 began, kratom proponents again tried to regulate the herb in the state. For this, they presented another bill named SB 1076: Florida Kratom Consumer Protection Act in the Senate. Republican senator Joe Gruters, a representative of Sarasota County, introduced the bill.
His main claim was that passing a bill to regulate kratom would make the herb safer for the residents. Since KCPA makes sure that no vendor sells contaminated products, it fully addresses the safety issues. The bill will also help state officials to crack down on inconsistent sellers selling adulterated products in the market by using the law.
Unfortunately, the bad actors in the kratom industry portray the plant as something that is far from reality. That is why there is a dire need to regulate and monitor the activity of every merchant and seller. The senator was also positive that if the Senate succeeds in passing the bill, there are higher chances that Sarasota County will reverse the ban.
The bill still lies undecisive in the Senate.
Kratom Research Center In Florida
The complicated legal status of kratom is not only why Florida gets all the limelight, but it is the only state in America that receives grants for research in the herb. The University of Florida College of Pharmacy has a dedicated research center for the herb. Christopher McCurdy heads the research center. He is a trained medicinal chemist who pioneered kratom research in the United States.
The University recently received grants from the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) to study kratom. They gave a total grant of $3.4 million for the 7-year program to complete research on the herb. However, the first grant is more specific for studying the alkaloids, and the second is to study the effectiveness of the herb.
Another aspect to explore is why traditional kratom use in Eastern countries has not resulted in the same adverse side effects as in Western countries. Explaining this point, Chris McCurdy said:
“We want to find out why we are seeing more harm in the Western world when we don’t see it in Southeast Asia,”
The study will also look into the matter of the difference in the efficacy of the herb from fresh leaves vs. the dried leaves and whether the more side effect in western countries is because they more frequently mix kratom with other drugs or alcohol. As for now, the research is shedding more light on the positive side of the herb and cornering the side effects of its use along with other substances.
Do You Want To Buy Kratom In Florida?
There are two options to buy kratom in Florida physical stores and online stores. Online stores offer kratom products at much cheaper rates and have more variety. You also have the facility to lab test your products from FDA-approved labs in the US. These labs test the products for heavy metals, pathogens, and kratom alkaloids. They make sure that you get kratom free from any heavy metal, salmonella, or other pathogens and have less than 2% 7-hydroxy mitragynine content.
But if you still want to buy it physically, you can buy it at confectionery stores, vape and smoke corners, and gas stations. Here is the list of the most popular kratom vendors in Florida:
- Up in Smoke and Vape Shop (Jacksonville)
- USA Smoke Shop & Tattoo Supply (Jacksonville)
- Smokin Spades (Miami-Dade)
- Awa Na Vapor Kava Bar (Broward County)
Kratom is legal in Florida except for Sarasota county. Therefore, you can easily purchase it throughout the state except for the county where it is banned. However, in most states, they ask you if you are above 21 to offer you kratom, so come fully prepared.
Though several bills have been trying to schedule kratom at the state level, they haven’t been successful following massive support for the herb by the consumers.