CBD Kratom may have the last laugh.

After weeks of residents’ outrage, Radnor officials passed an ordinance that prevents the controversial store from opening at the site of a former Starbucks on Lancaster Avenue in Wayne. The company immediately filed a lawsuit against the Main Line township.

“Since the township ordinance was unanimously approved by the board, CBD Kratom filed a lawsuit to enjoin its application,” said Bill White, township manager. “The township intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit in that the ordinance is solely designed to protect children from exposure to unregulated substances in close proximity to schools, daycare facilities, and playgrounds. The township looks forward to defending against the claim in Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.”

For their part, CBD Kratom officials said they signed a 10-year agreement to rent at the Radnor location last August.

Spencer Owens, government affairs specialist for CBD Kratom, explained Radnor was chosen simply because of the demand for its product. CBD Kratom, which has over 50 venues nationwide and several within the Philadelphia area, determined many of its customers were traveling long distances to their stores and that a Radnor location would negate the need for that. That is where things began to grow complicated.

However, township officials said CBD Kratom had not obtained the proper permits to do business there. But Owens claims that the inability to get the proper permits was due in large part to township officials and their lack of responsiveness on the matter. CBD Kratom filed its lawsuit against both the township and the township’s director of community development accusing them of spot-zoning, a type of legislation targeted at one specific business.

The suit aims to allow Kratom to open for business and to sell kratom/delta-8. The  THC measure was passed April 4. It prevents the sale and distribution of any kratom or delta-8 THC product from within 1000 feet of schools, playgrounds, and daycares. That makes the Lancaster Avenue CBD Kratom location unusable because it is near Radnor Middle School and St. Katharine of Siena School.

Fear of their children being exposed to the drug motivated many parents to pack township meetings in opposition to the kratom store.

Delta-8-THC is a less common, less potent relative of Delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. It is currently under preliminary research. Kratom, derived from an evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia, currently stands in a unique spot in the world of psychoactive substances.

Like marijuana, it has been used for thousands of years and is said to offer a wide variety of benefits, from pain relief to energy gains. Unlike marijuana, however, it is underregulated. For a product to make it to shelves that, in many cases, provides no dosage information whatsoever, is quite unusual in the world of pharmaceuticals and supplements.

The lack of regulation surrounding it sabotages the effort to prove its benefits. People are often left with the impression that any substance so completely unregulated must thereby be dangerous. The truth is more complicated.

While deaths have been attributed to kratom, they have rarely occurred without additional factors or substances at play. There is understandable concern that kratom, which does interact with the brain’s opiate receptors, could serve as a gateway drug in the communities that it enters. The inverse, however, is also true. There is no shortage of kratom users who espouse its benefits, Many claim kratom saved them from crippling opiate addiction. Others go even further and credit kratom for saving their lives entirely.

While benign in comparison to more accepted drugs like tobacco and alcohol, its sheer lack of regulation is concerning to many. Based on imports and sales, there are between 10 and 15 million kratom users in the U.S. alone. For a drug to amass such a large base of users while so little is actually known about it is highly unusual. In December, the WHO said there simply was not evidence to recommend a critical review of the substance, and that it should be kept at a minimum level of regulatory surveillance.

An article from Scientific American explained how damaging the effect of FDA regulation could be. “In the context of an America with the highest number of overdose deaths ever—driven largely by street fentanyl—removing a safer substitute almost certainly will increase mortality.”


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mis-identified the Radnor Township Manager. It has been corrected. DVJournal regrets the error.


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