Is Kratom Possession a Crime in Florida?

Kratom Possession

Kratom

As of February 2017, Kratom possession is not a crime in Florida, with the exception of Sarasota County. In January 2014 Sarasota passed a county ordinance, making it illegal to possess kratom, which it considers to be an illegal “designer drug”. Kratom possession in Sarasota County is punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail, and/or a $500 fine.  A mandatory court appearance is also required.

Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia.  Its leaves are harvested and sold as a powder, extract or resin.  Kratom powder can be consumed by mixing it with water or other liquids, such as water, milk, or fruit juice.  It can also be mixed with other foods, or prepared as a tea.

Kratom can produce opium-like effects, and its users often use it to treat opiod or alcohol addiction. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there is no scientific evidence that kratom is effective or safe for this purpose.

With the exception of Sarasota, it is currently legal to purchase and possession kratom throughout the state of Florida.  In fact, kratom can be purchased in the counties directly adjacent to it, which include Manatee, Desoto and Charlotte. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a valid defense to the criminal charge if he or she is found in possession within Sarasota County.

The Florida legislature has previously attempted to criminalize kratom, but those attempts failed to gather the necessary votes to get the legislation out of committee.  There was also a previous attempt at the federal level to ban kratom, but that also failed to become law.

In early 2017 there is a renewed effort in the Florida legislature to criminalize possession of kratom, including House Bill 183 and Senate Bill 424.  House Bill 183 would make it a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by one year in the county jail to sell, deliver, manufacture or import kratom.    Senate Bill 424 seeks similar treatment of kratom as an illegal substance.