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Tennessee State Attorney General Rules Botanical Kratom As Fully Legal

Tennessee State Attorney General Rules Botanical Kratom As Fully Legal

Dec 24th 2017

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Tennessee State Attorney General Rules Botanical Kratom As Fully Legal

Exciting news for Tennesseans, kratom is no longer in the gray market. Up until now, there has been much confusion about the legality of the South East Asian plant used by millions in the US. Since 2007, a law regarding synthetics mentioned two of the constituents of the plant and since then many vendors refused to sell it or to Tennesseeans. Over the past few years, few precedents were set leading to today's happy news.

I had written Governor Bill Haslam years back regarding the confusion in the bill. Kratom was never named in the law which (in its title and wording) refers solely and specifically to synthetic substances like cathinone based "bath salt" drugs and the spice or incense "cannabinoid" products. When I initially pointed this out to the governor in the email he promised to send the information over to the state Health Commissioner.

It wasn't until November of this year that this became vitally relevant again for me. In the case of Christopher Miller, who was arrested for selling kratom I wrote several articles pointing out the issues with the body of the law and its application. Chris' case was thrown out by the District Attorney for that reason and in early December, Representative Tony Shipley (author of the bill itself) clarified that the bill is only in regards to synthetic constituents of kratom and not the botanical leaf product itself.

As of December 20, 2017 however, with Tennessee State Attorney General's Opinion No. 17-55 regarding the legality of possessing the kratom plant in Tennessee, the official court-ordered opinion regarding interpretation of the law states that "Possession of the kratom plant in its natural botanical form should not subject a person to potential criminal prosecution under Tennessee law. The kratom plant in its natural botanical form is not a prohibited controlled substance under Tennessee law."
Opinion 17-55 fully clarifies finally, fully and legally the State's position on the possession and sale of Mitragyna speciosa pointing out there is currently "no Tennessee statute that expressly criminalizes possession of kratom plants in their natural botanical form." This isn't just a win for Tennessee either. Other states like Indiana had similar laws that came out during the "bath salts" years that also name mitragynine but refer only to synthetics. Hopefully, this new opinion from the Tennessee State Attorney General can set a precedent for other states to enact sane legislation regarding this plant that has helped so many.