Women, Weather, and…Kratom?
It may not have been what Kendrick Lamar had in mind when he teamed up with the legendary Dr. Dre on their hit song Recipe, all about the perks of California living’, but the west coast has always enjoyed certain advantages. Paired with good weather and beautiful scenery, the Pacific states have always been a cultural landmark of the States. The region leads not only with its outsized personality, but also its progressive ideologies.
California was the first state to take medical marijuana seriously, having opened the door to the wave of legalizations we see now all the way back in the 1980’s. Its northern neighbors were some of the first to follow. Along with progressive social movements, the west coast plays an important role as a sort of litmus test that much of the country eventually seems to follow. It proves no different with kratom, as groups like the American Kratom Association sweep across the country and enlighten legislators to the benefits of keeping kratom available to the masses; and this has come with good effect.
Kratom on the West Coast
Kratom is fully legal in California, Washington, and Oregon. As the region closest to kratom’s native habitat, the Southeastern Pacific island chains, the west coast has prolific kratom commerce. Dozens of stores dot Los Angeles, California, some dedicated exclusively to kratom; this is a rarity in the rest of the country, where most kratom is sold along with other products in head shops or online.
The American Kratom Association has sent out its finest with the likes of Mac Haddow to traverse the states and enact the KCPA. The Kratom Consumer Protection Act would preempt any federal bans, like the FDA tried and failed to enact in 2016 after a public outcry, from politicians and the common folk alike. The AKA has seen excellent results but has not made the west coast a priority; this bodes well for a number of reasons. First, it suggests that the AKA is confident that the west coast is already supportive of kratom. And as we mentioned above, as states like California and Oregon play such a crucial role as a sort of ‘gatekeeper’ of many aspects of American culture – especially as it pertains to more libertarian aspects of personal agency – this means that the region serves as an important bulwark for the sustainability of kratom.
What the Future of Kratom Holds
The stability of kratom in this region can also be inferred from other events. Washington recently suggested a law that would ban people under the age of 18 from purchasing kratom; that they are not targeting kratom itself, but looking to regulate it – as we can all agree is reasonable and probably necessary – suggests an acceptance that kratom is here to stay. Expanding on these ideas of regulation, Oregon drew up a bill requiring regulatory requisites for those wishing to sell kratom. Again, while this may seem worrisome and restrictive, it actually strengthens kratom’s position. When well regulated, kratom will be less prone to scrutiny. Regulation can help prevent occurrences like a 2017 salmonella outbreak which occurred from a tainted supplier of what we can only assume was a shoddy operation to start (In decades of kratom consumption in the United States, this is a blue moon occurrence). This outbreak, while not in scope with the FDA’s crosshairs, gave them ammunition with which to take potshots at the industry. Regulation would help preclude these types of incidents.
It’s a good sign that the west coast is ahead of the curve. In many ways, culture seems to migrate from west to east in a quasi-polar Oregon Trail; that these states are seeking to improve the safety and efficacy of the kratom industry projects a stable outlook for the market there. Astora, Oregon, has seen a kratom advocacy rally as recently as 2019 when a weak and unpopular bill would have overreached on kratom regulation; with a popular contingency, generally progressive ideals, and sensible legislation forthcoming, kratom seems to have found a home on the west coast.
As a midwesterner staring down another winter, I wish I could say the same.