Castle Rock has temporarily suspended the approval of any new businesses dealing in kratom — an herb made from a tree native to southeast Asia — as research into the substance continues at the …
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Castle Rock has temporarily suspended the approval of any new businesses dealing in kratom — an herb made from a tree native to southeast Asia — as research into the substance continues at the federal level and regulations remain lax.
An ordinance approved by the town council on Dec. 18 says the town will no longer accept, process or approve applications for business licenses or sales tax licenses, among other permits, required to sell kratom. The ordinance does not ban the sale, possession or use of kratom in town, only the approval of new permits.
The town attorney's office put together the ordinance after the town received an informal inquiry about opening a kratom bar, similar in operation to a coffee shop. There are other businesses in town that already sell kratom.
The ordinance was adopted in an emergency reading, meaning council did not hold the two readings of an ordinance typically required before passage. The emergency ordinance needed approval from six out of the seven councilmembers.
Town Attorney Bob Slentz said it was “highly unusual” for his office or the council to consider suspending business permitted under town code, but as discussions around kratom evolve it could become an important issue to town residents down the road.
Slentz advised council to further study kratom and be comfortable with how it is regulated locally before continuing to license its sale.
“It's much easier to decline to permit a business than it is to take an existing business and put it out of business,” he said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cautioned consumers not to use kratom, saying it "affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine" and "appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence." In May, the FDA sent warning letters to several companies across the nation, telling them to stop marketing kratom products as an effective way to withdraw from opioids. Companies are also making unsubstantiated claims that the plant has pain-relieving properties, according to the FDA.
The permitting ban in Castle Rock lasts for at least 180 days. It does not affect kratom establishments that had already acquired permits or licenses before the ordinance was enacted.
The ordinance cites a lack of substantive state regulations on the sale and distribution of kratom in addition to bans, warnings and salmonella investigations from federal agencies, including the FDA, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For now, the town will be working with individuals in the kratom industry and regulatory agencies to draft a local set of regulations.
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