Kratom Ban in Sarasota County: A Decade Later

Nearly a decade has passed since Sarasota County, Florida, became the first and only county in the state to ban Kratom, a Southeast Asian tea leaf known for its stimulating effects. This controversial decision, made by the Sarasota County Commission in 2014, labeled Kratom as a “designer drug.” The ban came amidst growing popularity of Kratom in the United States, where it’s estimated that 11 to 15 million Americans regularly consume it.

Kratom, a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, produces stimulating effects at low doses and sedative effects at high doses. Its leaves contain psychoactive ingredients, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymytragynine. Despite its traditional use in Southeast Asia, concerns have been raised about its safety. In 2016, the DEA temporarily listed Kratom as a Schedule I drug but later reclassified it as a “drug of concern.”

The ban in Sarasota County imposes a fine or a second-degree misdemeanor charge for users, and stores caught selling Kratom face fines or probation. This move reflects ongoing debates over Kratom’s safety and efficacy, especially considering the Tampa Bay Times investigation that found over 580 kratom-related overdose deaths in Florida over the past decade.

For more details on this story, visit the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.