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Kratom legislation passes without county executive signature

Kratom, an herb with psychoactive properties [Adobe stock image]

Kratom, an herb with psychoactive properties [Adobe stock image]

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann has allowed amended Substitute Bill 4721, which approves regulation of the sale of kratom and related products in the county, to pass without his signature.

The bill, which has been awaiting final approval from Ehlmann, was passed by the County Council at its Aug. 26 meeting.

The county executive informed the council of his decision to let the bill pass without his signature in a memo dated Sept. 12. In it, he stated that, while the amended bill made important changes that address his objections to the original bill, he continues to have concerns about kratom use.

Kratom is a plant that grows in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, which advocates say offers pain relief but which others have said has addictive and dangerous properties.

“My biggest concern is that the public may conclude that the county, since it has not banned kratom, has determined that it is safe to use,” Ehlmann said. “People need to understand that the bill simply prohibits its sale to those under 18 years of age and provides basic consumer protections for buyers, so they know what they are purchasing, the source of the product, health warnings and that the product lacks regulatory standards for manufacturing and dosing.”

Ehlmann cited two press releases from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA], regarding concern over risks associated with the use of kratom and one with a warning that “the extremely high rates of contamination of kratom products with salmonella have resulted in numerous illnesses and recalls.” The news releases were published April 3, 2019, and Feb. 21, 2018. The latest warning from the FDA about kratom is published on its website.

Advertisements for new products or treatments often include the endorsement “FDA approved,” Ehlmann said in his memo to the council. “We need to make it clear to everyone that kratom is not St. Charles County approved by passage of this bill. While amended Substitute Bill 4721 is helpful, I would have preferred going further – as have the five states that have banned kratom – or waiting for more research before taking a position.”

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