Florida lawmakers take first step in regulating Kratom supplement

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Kratom is in the coffee family and is an herbal supplement grown mostly in southeast Asia. Some states have banned it after the federal government raised questions about its safety.

But, the problem didn’t come from the supplement, but from what unscrupulous vendors laced it with, which Florida lawmakers took the first step Tuesday to prevent from happening again.

Kratom is legal but unregulated in Florida. It is a big seller at the Natural Life chain of stores.

“And every day, we get testimonials from people how this plant has changed their life for the better. And we hear it multiple times a day, every day,” said Gabe Suarez, the owner of Natural Life.

Suarez said he requires what he sells to have been tested by a third party to ensure it’s pure and safe. “You name it, we’re searching for it.”

Keep reading at NBC.

Legislature considers crackdown on kratom, a controversial herbal supplement

A Florida Senate committee on Tuesday advanced a proposal that could have major implications for the state’s kratom industry.

The measure, Senate Bill 1076, would ban the sale of kratom to Floridians younger than 21 and put in place a series of quality-control regulations around kratom products. It would also require kratom sellers to affix a label to any product with directions for suggested use. Violators would be subject to a $500 fine for a first offense, then $1,000 fines for subsequent infractions.

Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, the bill’s sponsor, said his measure would help the state crack down on unscrupulous businesses selling contaminated kratom products to customers.

“As long as it’s safe and as long as it’s marketed for what it is, I think people should have access and have the availability,” Gruters said. “We just want to eliminate the bad actors, and those people that are turning the product into something that it’s not.”

Get the full story at the Miami Herald.

Democratic lawmakers call for recreational marijuana legalization

Democratic lawmakers want to legalize marijuana, and they’re urging Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature to do it now.

Thus far, Democrats have proposed at least 10 marijuana-related bills in the 2022 Legislative Session. At least one measure would outright legalize marijuana (HB 467), while another would decriminalize the drug and other addictive substances.

All will face an uphill battle in Tallahassee.

“A bill legalizing marijuana has never been heard in the Florida House,” Democratic Rep. Yvonne Hinson said at a Thursday news conference. “That needs to change this year. States are legalizing cannabis all over the nation, and Florida is falling behind.”

States including New York, Virginia and New Mexico legalized recreational marijuana in 2021 via voter initiatives. Meanwhile, three states — Arizona, Montana and New Jersey — OK’d recreational marijuana use in 2020 via legislation.

Get the full story at the Fernandina Observer.

Global Coalition Launches Push To Reschedule Psilocybin Under International Rules

A new global coalition announced a new campaign on Tuesday to get psilocybin mushrooms internationally rescheduled.

As the psychedelics reform movement continues to expand domestically in the U.S., the International Therapeutic Psilocybin Rescheduling Initiative (ITPRI) is seeking a worldwide policy change in order to facilitate research into the therapeutic potential of the substance.

Partners of the coalition include the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Beckley Foundation, Mind Medicine Australia, Drug Science and Open Foundation.

The initiative focuses on international drug scheduling under the United Nations’s 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which currently places psilocybin in the most tightly restricted, Schedule I category, which is supposed to be reserved for drugs  that constitute “an especially serious risk” and have “limited” therapeutic uses.

Advocates say that psilocybin fits neither of those criteria.

Read the full story at Marijuana Moment.

New Bill Introduced In Washington State Would Legalize Psilocybin, Magic Mushrooms

The legislation echoes a program launched in 2020 by neighboring Oregon, where a ballot bill allowed for the creation of a state-licensed psilocybin therapy program which is now in the final stages of its two-year set-up period.

Adding to a wave of psychedelics legalization measures that are sweeping across the American Northwest, lawmakers in Washington State introduced a bill that would create a state-licensed program to provide medical treatment with psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms.

The Psilocybin Wellness and Opportunity Act would legalize “supported psilocybin experiences” for adults 21 and older, who would be allowed to consume products containing psilocybin and psilocin, under the support of a trained and state-licensed service administrator, Marijuana Moment reported.

The Fresh Toast has the full story.

Marijuana is legal in Virginia but not on college campuses, causing confusion over what’s allowed

Marijuana is legal in the state of Virginia now, but the drug is still banned on college campuses. This added wrinkle has caused confusion over whether students and employees can possess it, where they can carry it or consume it, and whose rules they might be breaking by doing so.

When the General Assembly passed the law this year, it included several caveats. The user must be 21 years old, marijuana can’t be consumed in public, and possessing more than an ounce is illegal.

Colleges added or reminded students of another rule: Bringing the drug onto campus violates their anti-drug policies. While there is no statewide policy, many colleges in Virginia independently came to the conclusion that they couldn’t allow marijuana without risking the loss of federal funding for failing to comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.

Keep reading at Richmond.com.

‘Magic mushroom’ drug psilocybin edges toward mainstream therapy

Tony Head was depressed and fearing death from stage 4 prostate cancer when, as part of a supervised scientific trial, he took a large dose of the psychedelic agent in “magic mushrooms,” psilocybin.

Head donned a mask and headphones to shut out the world around him, and had an experience that changed the course of his life.

“At some point in that time I felt like a higher power or something — I didn’t see anything, I didn’t see any type of image — I felt like something connected and touched me and as soon as it did, I just started crying,” Head, an award-nominated actor who lives in New York City, said in an interview with HealthDay Now.

He said the one-time therapy helped relieve much of the anxiety surrounding his prognosis.

Read more at upi.com

World Health Organization Decides Not to Call for Global Kratom Ban

Kratom advocates are cheering a new decision from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) not to recommend that the plant-derived substance be internationally banned following a scientific review.

There were some concerns that the WHO’s Executive Committee on Drug Dependency (ECDD) would take steps to either urge international control over kratom—which has been touted as a natural painkiller that works as a safer alternative to prescription opioids—or recommend a critical review that could have ultimately led to scheduling following another year-long inquiry.

“People report using kratom to self-medicate a variety of disorders and conditions, including pain, opioid withdrawal, opioid use disorder, anxiety and depression.”

But in a report released last week, members of ECDD voted 11-1 to simply continue monitoring data on the health impacts of kratom over the next two to three years, rather than institute strict controls.

Read the full story at Filter.

Kratom rules still elusive in Missouri, but another push planned for next year

JEFFERSON CITY — A St. Charles County lawmaker isn’t giving up his effort to regulate a plant grown in Southeast Asia and sold across Missouri.

Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, said he will reintroduce the “Kratom Consumer Protection Act” for the upcoming legislative session after the plan died in the Senate this year.

His 2021 bill barred the sale of kratom to minors and said sellers must ensure their kratom products don’t contain dangerous substances.

“It’s just a basic consumer protection measure to ensure that the product is properly labeled so that consumers know what they’re buying and that it’s only sold to adults,” Christofanelli said.

People use kratom to relieve pain, treat opioid withdrawal, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other ailments.

But kratom has also generated public health concerns, including from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which discouraged its use in 2019 because it appeared to have addictive properties.

Read more at The Post-Dispatch.

A policy commentary on the WHO pre-review of kratom

In this policy commentary, we first take a look at the developments in Southeast Asia, where the criminalization of kratom significantly increased after Prime Minister Thaksin declared a war on drugs in Thailand in 2003.

This intensified law enforcement in the region put kratom on the radar of UNODC’s SMART programme. Yet Thailand, where repressive enforcement of the kratom ban had reached dramatic proportions following Thaksin’s drug war, moved to lift the ban in August 2021.

We then look at how kratom became an issue of concern when it was labelled a ‘New Psychoactive Substance’ (NPS) and how procedures established to expedite the scheduling process for NPS, especially UNODC’s Early Warning Advisory, propelled kratom onto the ECDD agenda.

Read the full commentary at tni.org.

What is kratom the ‘legal heroin’, how dangerous is the drug and why is it now in WHO’s cross hairs?

The herbal substance kratom, or “legal heroin”, remained largely unnoticed in Hong Kong until it was banned in August. Weeks later, customs officers seized 2.5 tonnes of the psychotropic substance, with an estimated street value of HK$6.67 million (US$856,700), being shipped from Indonesia to Florida, in the United States.

The substance is not illegal at the federal level in the US and many parts of the world, but there has been a debate for years over the need to regulate its use. Indonesia and Thailand are believed to be the largest producers, and the US, the main market.

Between October 11 and 15, the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence will meet in Geneva for a “pre-review” of kratom, a first step in assessing whether it should be added to a list of internationally controlled drugs.

The Post gets the answers to common questions about the substance now under scrutiny.

Read the full story at South China Morning Post.

A global fight looms over Kratom, a possible opioid alternative

A World Health Organization meeting next week could determine the future of kratom, a widely available herbal supplement some tout as an alternative to opioid painkillers, in the U.S. and elsewhere.

A 2017 survey of about 2,800 self-described kratom users in the U.S. showed that they’re typically middle-aged and white, and use the substance to treat the symptoms of anxiety, depression, pain and opioid withdrawal.

Kratom, a plant indigenous to Southeast Asia, produces narcotic-like effects when smoked or taken in liquid or capsule form. Its advocates say the substance is a promising replacement for opioids that could help wean people addicted to those drugs, which killed nearly 70,000 people in the U.S. in 2020.

Those claims have yet to be fully vetted by scientists. The U.S. government has twice tried to restrict kratom’s use by classifying it as a controlled substance, arguing it has high potential for abuse and no known medical benefit.

The full Politico article has more.

Is Denver’s Psilocybin Decriminalization Having an Impact?

In May 2019, by popular vote, Denver became the first US city to decriminalize psilocybin. A naturally occurring psychedelic found in certain mushrooms, psilocybin is currently a Schedule I narcotic under federal law.

Voters approved Initiative 301 (I-301), better-known as “Decriminalize Denver,” which stated that personal possession, use and cultivation of psilocybin (no specified amount) would be the “lowest law enforcement priority.” The sale and purchase of psilocybin is still illegal, but the bill prohibits police and prosecutors from using any public funding to prosecute those charges. The initiative took effect immediately.

It also required the city to create a psilocybin policy review board comprising local officials, law enforcement, scientific experts and advocates.

“In the past two years since this passed, the sky has not fallen,” Decriminalize Denver Campaign Director and psilocybin review board member Kevin Matthews told Filter.

Keep reading at Filter.

Lee County residents pushing to ban recreational drug

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) – A group of parents in Lee County are trying to keep kratom out of reach of children.

Kratom is a recreational drug that anyone can find at convenience stores or smoke shops.

Chris Hussey spoke on behalf of the group during Monday morning’s Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Hussey said his 15-year-old son wasn’t the same person after he started taking kratom. A few months ago, his son disappeared in the middle of the night. Hussey and his wife found him running on the side of the road.

Hussey said he had to stop using kratom for about a week.

Sheriff Jim Johnson said he asked supervisors to ban the drug over a year ago, but they decided not to.

Read more at WTVA.

Digital Therapeutics And The Future Of Psychedelic Medicine

Digital health and therapeutics will play a crucial role in the future of medicine. Across medical and mental health industries, companies are realizing that the confluence of healthcare and digital platforms will be part of the future of medicine.

Digital therapeutics seem to be especially important in the burgeoning psychedelic medicine industry. The future of psychedelics will be more than simply taking FDA-approved medication, as such potent compounds call for a more holistic and experiential approach to therapy. Therefore digital platforms will likely play a key role in developing this fast-growing sector.

Here are some companies positioning themselves as digital leaders in the growing psychedelic medicine space.

Keep reading at Benzinga.

Amazon Is Lobbying the U.S. to Legalize Weed

Amazon is ramping up its pro-weed campaign, announcing on Tuesday that it is actively lobbying for legislative reforms aimed at decriminalization and reaffirming its commitment to not screening job applicants for cannabis.

Beth Galetti, Amazon’s senior vice president of human resources, declared in a blog post the company’s support for two pieces of legislation aimed at decriminalizing cannabis nationwide. The move comes amid expanding legalization at the state level, with 36 states allowing some level of public access to cannabis and 18 states plus Washington, DC, legalizing recreational adult use.

The first is the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act), introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, which would remove cannabis from the federal government’s list of controlled substances, effectively decriminalizing it at the federal level.

Keep reading at Gizmodo.

Proposed California Initiative Enters Circulation: Decriminalizes Psilocybin Mushrooms

SACRAMENTO, CA – Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Weber has announced that the proponent of a new initiative was cleared to begin collecting petition signatures on September 16, 2021.

The Attorney General prepares the legal title and summary that is required to appear on initiative petitions. When the official language is complete, the Attorney General forwards it to the proponent and to the Secretary of State, and the initiative may be circulated for signatures. The Secretary of State then provides calendar deadlines to the proponent and to county elections officials. The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is as follows:

DECRIMINALIZES PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. For individuals 21 and over, decriminalizes under state law the cultivation, manufacture, processing, distribution, transportation, possession, storage, consumption, and retail sale of psilocybin mushrooms, the hallucinogenic chemical compounds contained in them, and edible products and extracts derived from psilocybin mushrooms.

Keep reading at Sierra Sun Times.

Bill aims to decriminalize magic mushrooms, mescaline

(The Center Square) – Two Democratic senators sponsored a bill aiming to decriminalize the possession of a range of psychedelics, including psilocybin and mescaline to better treat depression and other diseases.

Democratic Sens. Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor and Adam Hollier of Detroit sponsored Senate Bill 631.

Irwin says the War on Drugs is the “granddaddy of all failed big government programs.” Like in 2018 when Michiganders legalized marijuana, he argues lumping psilocybin and other hallucinogenic drugs that aren’t prone to abuse next to addictive drugs like heroin and meth is a mistake.

“These are just not the type of drugs that suck people into that vortex of addiction that can sometimes be such a problem,” Irwin said in a phone interview with The Center Square.

Read the story at The Center Square.

Should we aim for harm reduction or absolute safety? Herbal supplement Kratom puts FDA risk calibration to the test

Kratom Powder

The issue of whether or not to ban kratom is an excellent litmus test of whether the Biden administration will actually use the philosophy of harm reduction to guide drug policy—or just spout the trendy catchphrase as window dressing to hide ongoing engagement in the war on drugs.

An estimated 10–16 million Americans currently use kratom as an alternative to opioids, most commonly to treat pain or as a substitute for street drugs. The herb, formally known as Mitrogyna speciosa, has a centuries-long history of use in herbal medicine in Southeast Asia—notably as a substitute for opium.

Kratom does appear to be far safer than all illegal and most prescription opioids: a CDC study of some 27,000 overdoses that occurred between 2016 and 2017 found that it was implicated in less than 1 percent of deaths.

Read more at Genetic Literacy Project.

Psychedelic drugs in Vermont: A grassroots push for legalization picks up on lawmakers’ effort

As a January 2020 bill to decriminalize certain hallucinogenic drugs in Vermont currently sits in committee, a grassroots petition was recently started to “legalize psychedelics for mental health in Vermont.”

Garnering over 260 signatures over the past two weeks, the petition cites research from the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research as evidence of the safety and mental health benefits of psychedelic drugs. Johns Hopkins has found that psilocybin, also known as “magic mushrooms,” can help relieve depression, anxiety, nicotine addiction, and alcohol dependency.

The petition urges Vermont to follow in the steps of other parts of the country that have decriminalized certain psychedelics, which include Oregon; Denver; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Santa Cruz, California; and Washington, D.C.

Continue reading at Burlington Free Press.