Strengthening Kratom Regulation: A Model for Consumer Safety and Industry Integrity
COMMENTARY

May 17, 2024by Matthew Lowe, Executive Director, Global Kratom Coalition
Strengthening Kratom Regulation: A Model for Consumer Safety and Industry Integrity
Matthew Lowe is the executive director of the Global Kratom Coalition.

Kratom, a botanical substance from Southeast Asia with centuries of traditional use, has gained popularity in recent years for its potential benefits, including relaxation and mood enhancement. However, alongside this surge in interest comes the need for robust regulation to ensure consumer safety and industry integrity. 

The Global Kratom Coalition staunchly advocates for enacting state-level kratom regulation and enforcement across the United States. While the Kratom Consumer Protection Acts that have been passed to date are commendable, there is a need for more robust regulation that meets the evolving landscape of the kratom marketplace.

It is with this imperative in mind that the GKC has spearheaded amendments to existing legislation and supported groundbreaking initiatives such as the recently enacted House Bill 3574 in Oklahoma from Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Okla., and the proposed Assembly Bill 2365 in California from Assembly Member Matthew Haney, D-Calif.

In Oklahoma and California, the GKC has championed legislative efforts prioritizing consumer safety and responsible industry practices. These bills represent the most thoughtful and comprehensive kratom regulation, setting a standard that other states should emulate.

The foremost consideration in creating kratom regulation recognizes not all kratom is equal.

The GKC emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between leaf kratom, kratom extracts that mirror the alkaloid profile of the leaf material, and synthetic or manipulated extracts that deviate from kratom’s natural composition. Through testing, regulation can safeguard consumers from adulterated or dangerously potent products.

In Oklahoma, HB 3574 exemplifies our commitment to enhancing consumer protection. By instituting rigorous labeling requirements, this legislation ensures consumers know what ingredients are in kratom products, how to use the product safely and provides precautionary statements to ensure that consumers can make informed consumption choices. Regulations also prohibit synthetic derivatives of kratom like the recent rise in 7-hydroxymitragynine products that pose a threat to public health.

Similarly, AB 2365 in California introduces a comprehensive regulatory framework that distinguishes between kratom leaf and kratom extracts, prohibits synthetic derivatives, establishes packaging and labeling standards, implements age restrictions, and mandates rigorous testing protocols for kratom processors. This landmark legislation strikes a balance between safeguarding consumer welfare and preserving access to kratom products.

Together, these legislative efforts underscore the importance of proactive regulation in an increasingly dynamic kratom marketplace. As kratom use surges and innovation flourishes, regulatory frameworks must adapt to protect consumers from potential harm and ensure industry accountability.

Banning the sale of kratom, as has been done in six states and various counties, might seem like a quick solution. However, prohibition fails to address the underlying issues and can have unintended consequences, such as a black market rife with unknown, untested products.

Conversely, regulation offers a more balanced approach by allowing for oversight, quality control and education. 

With proper regulation and enforcement, consumers can access safe and accurately labeled kratom products, while policymakers can address potential risks through evidence-based guidelines.

Regulation fosters transparency within the industry, promotes responsible usage and preserves individual autonomy. By choosing regulation over prohibition, states can mitigate potential harms associated with kratom while respecting the rights and choices of consumers.

The GKC urges policymakers nationwide to follow the lead of Oklahoma and California by enacting robust kratom regulation. By prioritizing consumer safety, promoting transparency and fostering responsible industry practices, states can uphold the integrity of the kratom industry while empowering individuals with access to safe and responsibly sourced products.

HB 3574 and AB 2365 are beacons of exemplary kratom regulation, embodying the core values of the Global Kratom Coalition: access, education, advocacy, community and responsibility.

As we continue to advance our mission of protecting and expanding access to leaf-based kratom worldwide, we call upon legislators and stakeholders to join us in this critical endeavor.


Matthew Lowe is the Executive Director of the Global Kratom Coalition. GKC is an alliance of kratom consumers, experts and industry leaders committed to expanding understanding and access to safe kratom across the globe. GKC focuses on kratom product safety, scientific advancement and consumer education. Lowe can be reached by email.

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