Oregon lawmakers have decided not to regulate kratom, a drug widely sold at convenience stores.
Kratom can act as a stimulant when ingested. It’s made from the leaves of a tree native to southeast Asia, and it’s become popular among people looking for an alternative to opioids. The CDC warns the drug can be addictive and has linked it to nearly 100 deaths in the U.S.
An industry group says kratom deaths are the result of unscrupulous sellers spiking their product with other substances. The American Kratom Association supported the Oregon bill because they said establishing testing and labeling requirements would protect consumers. "We want to make sure we can separate the folks who want to make sure the product is safe from the folks only interested in the bottom line," said the association's Oregon-based lobbyist, Sam Chapman.
Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, said she supports the bill, but that lawmakers simply ran out of time with the session nearing an end. “This wasn’t quite ready for prime time this year, but I do hope that the advocates continue to work on this issue,” she said.
The bill could return in the short session next February.