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What is kratom? Why bills about the controversial supplement are making rounds in the Texas Legislature

This spring, Texas lawmakers approved Senate Bill 497 to crack down on Kratom that's been tampered with.

AUSTIN, Texas — The State of Texas is taking new steps to regulate a controversial supplement. Lawmakers passed a bill to create new rules for Kratom to make sure what's being sold is safe.

A large operation just north of Austin belonging to Steding and Sons Mercantile has workers producing Kratom for consumers nationwide, with rows and rows of products ready to hit doorsteps.

"There are some 40 alkaloids in the Kratom plant. It's part of the coffee family of plant materials," said Mac Haddow with the American Kratom Association.

Kratom comes from the Mitragyna speciosa plant, and its dried leaves are said to offer health benefits.

"It can improve your mood. It elevates you, it gives you a lot of energy and, at higher doses, it relieves pain," Haddow said.

The FDA warns against its use, citing concern about the supplement being combined with other drugs. This spring, Texas lawmakers approved Senate Bill 497 to crack down on Kratom that's been tampered with.

"These adulterators can now just add fentanyl or heroin or morphine or the various forms of that, which are very cheap. And it gives you that powerful, euphoric high. It makes you addicted, and it kills you," Haddow said.

Now the "Texas Kratom Consumer Health and Safety Protection Act" places fines and punishments on manufacturers and retailers who sell Kratom that isn't pure or sell to minors.  

"Every package of ours you get, you're going to be able to trace all the way back to Indonesia," said Jeremy Steding, founder and president of Steding and Sons Mercantile. "The fact that there have been adulterated products on the market is just completely unacceptable and heartbreaking."

Steding said safety is paramount, and laws like these help weed out bad retailers.

"I'm so grateful that Texas is one of the first states to pass the KCPA, and I hope that the rest of the United States and eventually nationally, we will follow suit," Steding said.

He and Haddow agree that anyone cutting corners in this industry should be taken out of the game entirely.

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