On Friday, Florida Politics brought you the first look at a House bill that would add Kratom to the state’s controlled substance list.
House Bill 183 would add Mitragynine and Hydroxymitragynine, constituents of Kratom, to the schedule of controlled substances, offering an exception for any FDA approved substance containing these chemicals.
Bill sponsor Rep. Kristin Jacobs, a Coconut Creek Democrat who has filed anti-Kratom legislation in three straight sessions, framed this bill as a “fall on the sword issue” for her, while framing the Kratom lobby in the harshest possible terms.
“They have a story,” Jacobs told us Monday via phone. “Just like Hitler believed if you tell a lie over and over again, it becomes the truth.”
For Jacobs, the issue is personal: a legislative quest against a “lie machine … a powerful lobby with a lot of money,” undertaken by one representative who isn’t being backed financially to fight this issue.
“It’s not just what they’re doing here,” Jacobs said. “They’re doing [the same thing] around the country.”
Jacobs, who believes Kratom is a “scourge on society,” expects the DEA to temporarily schedule Kratom as Schedule 1 now that its period for public comment has elapsed; that would leave it up to state legislators to move toward rulemaking in the session.
Jacobs also stresses that her legislation is intended to punish the industry, not the “unfortunate people who [are] addicted.”
That said, she sees no functional difference between the use of Kratom and opiate addiction. Jacobs is comfortable talking about Kratom in the same breath as heroin and the late and unlamented pill mills.
Kratom, said the representative, “is an opiate.” And Jacobs believes it’s used because it’s legal, and “people turn to something.”
Jacobs paints nightmare scenarios: babies born with withdrawal symptoms to pregnant mothers who enjoyed kava tea during their pregnancy; emergency room physicians treating Kratom addicts who are in the throes of withdrawal symptoms.
And, implies Jacobs, it is that dependency on a drug that leads activists to mobilize in Kratom fights outside of their home areas.
“Why do addicts in Michigan care about what’s happening in Florida?”
Meanwhile, says Jacobs, “the Kratom Association stands to lose a lot of money if they aren’t able to continue profiting off the misery of addicts.”
Those “addicts with glassy eyes and shaky hands,” claims Jacobs, are having to go to the same places that sell “bongs and gasoline” for their fixes.
“How come pharmacies don’t sell it? How come GNC doesn’t sell it?”
Jacobs is girding up for a presence of Kratom advocates in Tallahassee this session, complete with “cute little t-shirts.”
Those are the tactics, the representative says, that are being used across the country.
But to her, the fight is worth it.
“How many more are going to die?”