This bill would legalize kratom in RI. What is it and why is it illegal now?

Rhode Island is one of only a handful of states where kratom, a controversial herbal substance, is illegal.

Two lawmakers, Rep. John “Jay” Edwards, D-Tiverton, and Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy, D-Westerly, want to change that.

Their bill, H 5330, aims to legalize kratom and prevent adulterated products from being sold. Nicknamed the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, it mirrors similar bills introduced around the country at the behest of the American Kratom Association.

Currently, kratom is legal and largely unregulated on the federal level, though there have been attempts to ban it.

What is kratom?

Kratom is typically available in powder form and is made from the dried leaves of a tree that grows in southeast Asia. Its proponents insist that it should be described as a “nutraceutical” and not a drug.

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