SALEM – Oregon lawmakers have decided not to regulate the kratom drug yet.
The kratom is made from the leaves of a tree native to southeastern Asia and, when ingested, it can have an effect similar to that of a stimulant and of an opioid. It has become more and more publicized and available in Oregon.
In April, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended a series of rules and restrictions on kratom into an independent bill. On Monday, the Joint Committee on Ways and Means canceled the previous action and removed all references to kratom in the bill.
The bill would have regulated the production, testing and labeling of kratom and limited its sales to 21 years and over.
"It's an increasingly popular product that has potentially significant health effects," said Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, before voting to remove the "no-brainer". article of the bill regulating the kratom. "It was not quite ready for prime time this year, but I hope defenders will continue to work on this issue."
The net result of the committee's action is that kratom, which is sold in corner markets and gas stations across the state, will remain completely unregulated until the least the next legislative session.
The failure was not due to the opposition of a kratom industrial group. In fact, a lobbyist from the American Kratom Association, based in Portland, said the failure of the bill was a setback.
"The market is booming and people are willing to do all sorts of things to be competitive," said Sam Chapman, who represents customers who are already taking steps to ensure their products are not contaminated.
"People who go beyond self-regulation want certain standards of industry," he said. "You need a foundation of basic regulation."
Chapman stated that he foresaw that legislators would create a task force charged with continuing to develop an appropriate bill during the legislative interval, possibly with a re-examination of the issue in the short legislative session next February.