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House advances bill to regulate opioid-like intoxicant

A controversial substance known to have opioid-like effects could come under state regulation in Missouri.

A bill advanced by the House of Representatives would regulate the sale and use of kratom in consumable products, as well require that they be labeled accurately. It would also prohibit the sale of kratom to people younger than 18.

The traditional Southeast Asian herbal medicine has been gaining popularity in the United States as an intoxicant. The substance is not recognized as a controlled substance by the FDA as it can lead to risks of addiction and abuse.

But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peter’s, said Tuesday that he has heard from committee testimony that the substance can provide a mild stimulant and pain relief, similar to the effects of coffee, if taken in measured quantities.

“People who have had a history of being hooked on dangerous opiate drugs find that kratom relieves them from craving dangerous drugs like heroin or opiates and allows them to live a a life free of that addiction,” he said.

Christofanelli said there have been individuals who mixed kratom with other substances and sold them across the state.

“The Kratom Consumer Protection Act creates a very basic regulatory framework,” he said. “Its active ingredient amounts cannot be changed, and neither can it be adulterated with dangerous substances.”

The House gave preliminary approval to the bill Tuesday. Another vote is needed to send it to the Senate.

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.