JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House endorsed legislation Thursday requiring more regulations for kratom products.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, will bar the sale of the product to anyone younger than 18, as well as require sellers to ensure that their products do not contain dangerous substances.
Kratom is a plant grown in Southeast Asia that affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine. It is often used as a dietary supplement for pain relief and a natural alternative to treat opioid withdrawal, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other health conditions.
While there are stores that specialize in selling kratom — as powder, in capsules, taffies and extracts — it’s also available to buy online and at convenience stores that sell items that are supposed to be consumed in moderation.
In early 2019, three people died in the St. Louis region from too much “mitragynine,” a natural substance derived from the leaves of kratom, public health officials found. The findings enraged kratom enthusiasts and owners of stores that have been popping up.
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The substance is derived from a tree in southeast Asia and legal in most communities, but pressure is mounting as new stores offer it as an alternative for relief from a variety of ailments and diseases.
In 2019, St. Charles County approved an ordinance requiring sellers to register online and refrain from selling adulterated or concentrated kratom.
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, told his colleagues that he favors regulation over an outright ban.
The county executive wants more information about the dietary supplement that has been tied to three deaths in the St. Louis region.
“I don’t think that would be an appropriate thing for us to do,” said Merideth, before lawmakers voted unanimously to forward the measure to the Senate.
If approved by the Senate and signed into law, Missouri would join a handful of states that have adopted similar regulations.
The legislation is House Bill 350.