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Local Spotlight: Florida's unregulated kratom market

Kratom is a tropical plant that is sold as various potent products in the U.S., including capsules and liquid shots.
Kratom is a tropical plant that is sold as various potent products in the U.S., including capsules and liquid shots.

Kratom is a tropical plant with leaves that contain a chemical compound with similar effects to opioids.

In the United States, kratom is sold in its concentrated form, oftentimes in potent capsules or liquid shots. The kratom is worth roughly $1.5 billion, but unregulated.

The Tampa Bay Times investigated kratom in Florida. Reporters found that more than 580 died from a kratom-involved overdose in Florida the last decade. Most of those deaths involved other substances too, but 46 were due to kratom alone. Additional results of the investigation, Deadly Dose, include:

What is kratom? What are its possibilities and dangers? And why is the psychoactive substance unregulated?

The American Kratom Association, a non-profit advocacy organization and lobbying group, wrote an open letter to the editor of the Tampa Bay Times in response to the paper’s investigation.

This is part of a series called “Local Spotlight,” where we cover local stories that deserve national attention. Have a suggestion about what we should feature? You know where to find us.

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Avery Jessa Chapnick