Bills To Ban Kratom In Maryland Being Considered By 2020 General Assembly

The legislation is supported by members of the Frederick County Delegation.


Annapolis, Md (KM) The Maryland General Assembly will be considering bills to ban Kratom.

The drug comes from the leaves of a tree native to Southeast Asia,  which have mind-altering compounds. It goes under the names of Biak, Ketum, Kakuam, Ithang and Thom. The National Institute for Drug Abuse says kratom is taken as a pill, a capsule, or extract. Some people chew these leaves, or brew the powdered or dry leaves as a tea. Sometimes it’s smoked and eaten in food, according to NIDA

Frederick County State Senator Ron Young (D) is sponsoring the bill in the State Senate to ban the substance.. “We’re having people claim they use it to try to get off of opioids. I’ve have others saying it’s just as bad as opioids,” he says. “There’s been about 150 deaths from it. But in about two-thirds of those, fentanyl was involved. But it’s unregulated so you don’t know what’s in it.”

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held a hearing on that bill on Wednesday.

The legislation says substances which contain mitrgynien and 7-hydroxymitragynine, active ingredients in kratom, would be added to the drugs which are considered dangerous, and could not be legally used, possessed or distributed. It is not classified as illegal by the federal government and it’s readily available at retail stores, and over the internet. Some people use it to control their pain, although the National Institute on Drug Abuse says it has not been proven to be safe and effective NIDA says more research is needed on Kratom.

Frederick County Delegate Ken Kerr (D) is sponsoring similar legislation in the House of Delegates. “The FDA has identified it as a substance of concern, and the Mayo Clinic has said it has no medicinal value,” he says.

Kerr says he has heard from constituents about Kratom. “A lot of people say it’s helping to keep them off of heroin, or opioid addiction . So we’ve encouraged them to come out and let us hear their stories,” he says.

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on Kerr’s bill on February 4th.

Even if this product is not prohibited in Maryland, Senator Young hopes legislators will keep it away from minor children. “Right now, the way the bill’s written it would ban it,” he says. “But we’re open to listening to everybody and whether some modifications are there.”

NIDA says there have been multiple reports of people who died after ingesting kratom, but most have involved kratom mixed with other drugs.


By Kevin McManus