Advocates for kratom are working to move the popular organic substance of Southeast Asian origin into the mainstream. Even as researchers such as Christopher McCurdy conduct studies to determine whether the herb has a future as a pain reliever and tool to help opioid users kick addictions, a metro-Denver business called Clean Kratom Wellness Center, at 1520 Simms Street in Lakewood, has branched out to Portland, Oregon. There, the new store has been licensed to package and sell kratom by the Oregon Department of Agriculture — a designation that owner Faith Day believes is the first of its kind in the United States.
"It's a pretty big deal," Day says about the Portland store, at 3029 SE Division Street, Suite B. "There are a lot of sketchy players out there, and this is a way the government is able to work with the kratom community so we can provide safe access to this product."
Day feels strongly about regulation despite the fact that her Colorado kratom operation was targeted by the Food and Drug Administration in early 2018. In recent years, the FDA has issued warnings about the human consumption of kratom and participated in the seizure of a shipment to a Denver company circa 2019.
But because Day has been careful to follow all local and federal rules, she's been able to keep the local shop in business — and she's a big supporter of the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, a bill that may be introduced in the Colorado General Assembly during the 2020 session according to Mac Haddow, senior fellow on public policy for the American Kratom Association.
Utah "was the first state to take it on," Haddow told us late last year — and the measure, which became law last year, "says every kratom distributor has to register with the state that they're selling a kratom product. It says they have to submit a lab analysis of the products they propose to sell from an independent lab that meets federal requirements. It says the products can have no greater than the alkaloid content that shows up in the natural plant. It says you have to manufacture it according to good manufacturing standards and you can't add any deleterious ingredients to the product — and you have to list all the ingredients on the package, so people know what they're getting and what the serving size is."
He adds, "It's also recommended not to sell it to anyone under eighteen, even though it doesn't give you a high or a euphoric feeling unless it's been adulterated."
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Haddow chalks up the signing of the act in Utah, as well as in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, to "legislators getting a chance to look at the science within a policy framework," and he points to positive signs in several other states. "In Oregon, the act passed the judiciary committee unanimously, but when it went on to the ways and means committee, it got blended with a couple of other bills and died before action could be taken. But it's going to be back in February, and there's broad support for it."
Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has already given its blessing to Clean Kratom Wellness Center, in part because of a difference between laws there and here. "Colorado doesn't view kratom as food, but Oregon does," she explains. "Oregon's Department of Agriculture considers it a food additive, and the FDA doesn't regulate retail food establishments. So that's how our Portland store became a registered facility."
Lab testing is an important component of both centers. In Colorado, Day employs Murray-Brown Laboratories, and, she notes, "We include a direct scan link to the Colorado Department of Health page for kratom to better educate the public on the risk of kratom as well as the use."
Day is hoping to build on the success of the Portland outlet. "We plan on opening in other states," she reveals. "We're looking at Utah, Arizona and Georgia, where the Kratom Consumer Protection Act has been passed."