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Senate companion filed for controversial kratom ban bill

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One of the more controversial bills filed in the Florida House this session, a proposed ban of constituent elements for kratom, saw a Florida Senate companion emerge Monday.

Senate Bill 424, filed by Democrat Darryl Rouson, mirrors the House bill.

Both bills 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.

Selling, delivering, manufacturing, or importing these Kratom chemical constituents into Florida would be considered a misdemeanor of the first degree under either bill.

Even before Rouson’s version was filed, the House bill filed by Rep. Kristin Jacobs, a Democrat from Coconut Creek, got national scrutiny.

Jacobs, in a no-holds-barred interview with FloridaPolitics.com, compared kratom advocates to one of history’s greatest villains.

“They have a story,” Jacobs told us via phone. “Just like Hitler believed if you tell a lie over and over again, it becomes the truth.”

Contrary to the many assertions from kratom users that the herbal remedy helps them manage pain, anxiety, and other debilitating conditions, Jacobs brought forth a “kratom madness” style of rhetoric when dismissing those who use the substance.

Jacobs described kratom users as “addicts with glassy eyes and shaky hands.”

Kratom advocates forcefully countered such descriptions soon after that.

Rouson received campaign contributions in 2016 from at least one party with a vested interest in a kratom ban.

Mark Fontaine, the former executive director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, gave Rouson $400.

“Caremark Rx,” a division of the CVS drugstore chain, gave Rouson $1,000.

ABC Fine Wine and Spirits, which sells liquor, gave $1,000 on two occasions during the 2016 cycle. Meanwhile, the Beer Distributors Committee, Wine and Spirits Distributors, and Southern Wine and Spirits all gave $1,000 once.

Betty Sembler, the wife of anti-cannabis crusader Mel Sembler, gave Rouson $500.

We’ve reached out to Sen. Rouson to ask if he aligns with Rep. Jacobs’ comments, and whether or not his campaign’s financial backing factored into his decision to file companion legislation to a bill bounced out of the Florida Legislature in each of the last two sessions.

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A.G. Gancarski has written a weekly column for Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly since 2003. His writings on politics, culture, and sport have appeared in the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, and the American Conservative. His radio and TV appearances include frequent contributions to WJCT-FM (Jacksonville’s Public Radio station); additionally, he has been a guest on Huff Post Live and the Savage Nation radio show. Gancarski can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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