Tomáš Zdechovský: Kratom must be regulated, banning it makes no sense

Published: 16. 11. 2023
Author: Tomáš Zdechovský
Photo: archives of Tomáš Zdechovský and Shutterstock.com
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The government has ruled against placing kratom on the list of banned substances, which is a major success for both consumers and vendors. The state budget is also set to benefit. The temporary ban planned by the Ministry of Healthcare would have meant only trouble.

The effects of this popular substance have been discussed on many a website. Kratom use has skyrocketed in Czechia since last fall, which is when major media outlets started writing about it. They have reported numerous cases of teenagers becoming addicted to the substance and ending up in medical care. A wave of protest came from the parents who urged the authorities to remove the substance from the streets and stores. Their goal was to make it less accessible to their children, which is only right.

Kratom must be a no-no for children
As a father of four, I'm bothered by the fact that my fifteen-year-old can buy a pack of kratom for roughly 300 crowns in one of the many vending machines scattered around the country. That is why I met with members of the European Kratom Alliance in Brussels to discuss possible solutions to this situation. We agreed that the regulation of kratom and the removal of said vending machines from the streets should be goal number one. Some have already been removed from certain cities and towns, but it's been rough going in other places. Both local mayors and vendors themselves are making things difficult. The safety and health of our children must come first. It's truly terrifying to hear that, according to some estimates, one out of five high-schoolers have tried kratom.

Molds and heavy metals
That is not the only issue bogging down the market that sprang up around this substance. There are no clear rules or regulations governing the sale. Some packs of kratom still contain heavy metals or molds, which can cause major health issues for consumers. It is clear – the sale of this substance as a collector's item must end, and bad actors must be pushed out of the market. The Czecho-Slovak Association for Kratom (CSAK) came up with a code of ethics for vendors, which it is hoping will compel them to follow basic rules when it comes to the sale of the substance. The packaging should also clearly state the effects and dosing instructions to help consumers avoid any health issues going forward.

Solution? Regulation!
The vast majority of experts have held the opinion from the get-go that banning kratom doesn't make sense. It could lead to people stocking up on major amounts of it and, in case of a long-term or permanent ban, even an expansion into the black market. The state would lose control over kratom this way, while its sale can only bring benefits. The best way forward is the bill that has already been drafted, which will implement clear rules and boundaries for the kratom market. It will make the substance regulated while also restricting access to juveniles. All parties will be happy. The bill needs to pass through the Parliament as soon as possible; the current legal vacuum is detrimental to the market.

Tomáš Zdechovský (born November 2, 1979, in Havlíčkův Brod) is a Member of the European Parliament and former vice-chair of the KDU-ČSL.
In 2003, he got a bachelor's degree in political communications from the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome and a year later a master's degree in social care and leisure education from the South Bohemia University in České Budějovice, topping it off in 2008 with a master's in media studies and journalism from MUNI. In 2021, he earned an MBA in marketing. He is currently engaged in his PhD studies.
Zdechovský founded Commservis.com, a communications and PR firm, in 2004; seven years later, he was appointed director of WIFI Czech Republic and Brain2win. As an MEP, he first became an EPP coordinator in the Budgetary Control Committee (CONT) and later its vice-chair. At the same time, he was also the vice-chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL).
In 2020, he enlisted in the Active Reserves of the Czech Army where he holds the rank of lieutenant. He has authored six poetry collections and one work of prose, he is interested in history, heraldry, and the topic of child safety. Zdechovský is married and has four offspring.

Vending machines like this one are to be removed from the streets


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