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House committee to hold 1st hearing on controversial herbal remedy

Kratom capsules.

A state House committee will hold its first hearing this week on a bill to regulate the sale and use of a controversial herbal supplement.

The herbal product kratom is made from leaves that grow on the tropical kratom tree native to southeast Asia, and is often sold as a tea or a powder.

It has been banned in at least half a dozen states. Alabama places it in the same category as heroin.

The US Food and Drug Administration has not outlawed kratom while it’s being studied, but the agency has warned against its use because it could be addictive.

But some researchers say it can be a useful treatment for opioid addiction. “We’d like to see it regulated so those that choose to purchase and consume it know what they’re taking, know how to take it, and know potential side effects,” said Michigan Representative Lori Stone, a Democrat from Warren.

Stone told Michigan Public Radio that she thinks kratom should be regulated like marijuana or alcohol with a framework “… that makes sure that the product’s that being sold is consistent with what consumers are being told it is, making sure that it’s unadulterated, and make sure that the people who are selling it are licensed to sell it.”

Stone’s bill would ban the sale of kratom to people younger than 21 and require a warning label that lists possible side effects.

Stone says she thinks a ban would be a mistake because that would drive the market underground. A hearing before the House Regulatory Reform Committee is planned Tuesday.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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