Senate Health Care Committee Bans ‘Kratom’ for Minors and Orders a Study of the Substance
Christian Action League
June 17, 2017
RALEIGH – Does kratom have any medicinal value? Or should the plant-based, psychoactive drug be banned in North Carolina?
These are questions that the North Carolina Senate Health Care Committee hopes a study bill it approved this week will answer. The measure, HB 747 – put forth as a better alternative to SB 830, which would have made kratom a controlled substance, would limit the sale of the popular study aid and pain killer to those 18 and under.
Anyone younger than 18 caught with the substance would be charged with an infraction rather than a felony, and legal options such as deferred prosecution would be offered to those who let kratom fall into the wrong hands.
Senators Tom McInnis (R-Richmond) and Tommy Tucker (R-Union), who shepherded the bill through committee, said the number of emails they received, many about the benefits of the substance, persuaded them to push for a study rather than an immediate and total ban.
“We did hear from an extensive number of people, and we were wanting to do the right thing and not have a knee-jerk reaction,” McInnis said, explaining that some states have implemented bans, others have no kratom laws and some have decide to try to keep it out of the hands of minors.
“That’s where we landed,” he added.
Tucker said once the study is done, lawmakers can take further action.
“When we go through the study and feel solidly behind a vote yes or no, we could end up in a scenario where we ban it or make it where you have to be 21 or older to buy it, or you have to be 18 or older to buy kratom, or we have no restrictions whatsoever. We simply want to find out the facts,” he told the committee, which welcomed the study bill.
Even so, Tucker conceded that he still has a “very difficult problem,” believing that kratom can usher opioid addicts into recovery.
“Having some experience and background, I cannot see how someone can be addicted to opiates and street heroin and all of a sudden get off both of them by taking kratom,” Tucker said.
Nonetheless, he said the bill sponsors were making every concession possible so that the bill would not have unintended consequences.
In addition to the kratom study, the revised bill calls for a study of whippets, the use of nitrous oxide as an inhalant. The bill is has been re-referred to the Senate Judiciary II Committee. If the measure is ultimately passed by both chambers before the end of the short session, the bill would take effect Dec. 1.
See related story: NC Committee on Health Care Considers Ban on ‘Kratom’