When you think of smoke shop staples, the first things that come to mind are glass pipes, vapes and rolling papers. Santino Novasio, President of Sales with South Sea Ventures, wants to make sure you add Kratom to that list.
Millions of people — potentially upwards of 15 million, according to estimates from the American Kratom Association (AKA) — utilize Kratom nationwide. Worldwide, it’s nothing new. Since at least the 19th century, people in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have experimented with the leaves of the mitragyna speciosa tree — from which Kratom is derived.
For those outside the Kratom community, it might seem like just another new botanical experimented with by young adults. Novasio, who worked in a smoke shop for 15 years, knows first-hand that it’s just the opposite — majority of people who buy Kratom are 30, 40, 50-year old, affluent professionals.
“If you Google ‘Kratom’ you’re going to get roses and thorns. There are a lot of news websites that like fantastical headlines and really enjoy whipping people into a frenzy. But you’ll see a lot of articles that truly represents what Kratom is and its potential benefits,” Novasio says.
Retailers are seeing the benefits as well.
“The majority of shops that carry Kratom credit it as being half, if not more, of their overall business,” Novasio says. “The beautiful thing about Kratom is that it doesn’t take up a lot of real estate and it’s typically keystone, if not a little bit more, so you’re at least doubling your money on a high-volume product.”
South Sea Ventures, founded in 2014, has become one of the most trusted wholesalers of Kratom products in the country. With GMP-compliant facilities, a rock-solid track record for quality Kratom, top tier management and outstanding customer service, this Utah-based company has filled orders for easily north of 10,000 retailers throughout the US.
South Sea Ventures has four lines of Kratom — MIT45, Bali Gold, Super K and Maeng Daddy. Each is
manufactured using a rigid screening process to ensure optimal quality and potency. Each product has its own unique properties. The most popular being a proprietary kratom extract, MIT45. MIT 45 gets its name from the fact that it is a 45% mitragynine isolate, the indole alkaloid that is known most commonly regarding Kratom. It’s a very unique extract, far different from any other extract or Kratom product on the market.
“Think of it like Sprite and root beer — they’re both sodas, but very, very different,” Novasio explains.
South Sea Ventures has come a long way from the days when the owners were literally counting Kratom capsules into little bags for shipment. The mission of the company has stayed true to course. The owners saw the Kratom trend coming, but more importantly, they believed in the product and saw the value that it added to people’s lives.
“The DEA tried unsuccessfully to ban Kratom in 2016, and what’s really remarkable was the absolute uproar from the marketplace of people marching in Washington, signing petitions and talking to their representatives, saying, ‘Hey, no, this is wrong.’ It was really meaningful to see so many people’s lives impacted by Kratom,” Novasio says.
Kratom remains mostly unregulated at the federal level, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a number of advisories regarding the safety and potential side effects. According to the American Kratom Association, most fears are unwarranted.
As with cannabis, the government has left states to make up their own minds regarding the legality of Kratom. Just six states — Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia have taken the step of banning the sale of Kratom. Utah, where South Sea Ventures is located, has been one of the most proactive states where Kratom is concerned. Rather than banning the substance, Utah enacted the “Kratom Consumer Protection Act,” which requires manufacturers within its borders to officially register with the state and to show that their product is unadulterated, or pure, as in not mixed with other elements.
“We truly believe that most states, if not all, are going to adopt the same policy,” Novasio says.
South Sea Ventures has made it their goal to stay ahead of the curve as well, adhering not only to Utah
regulations, but also, voluntarily to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure products are safe, pure, and effective. All of their products have undergone rigorous quality control and third-part testing, guaranteed with certificates of authenticity (COA).
“The outlook for Kratom is incredibly optimistic. Thanks to the AKA and our other Kratom manufacturing partners, there’s a lot of quality brands on the market. We’re just one of the brands that have done it right, and are doing what we can to legitimize Kratom, and promote its positive perception and public acceptance,” Novasio says.
“We’re not the most expensive brand by any stretch, but we’re definitely not the cheapest — that’s because we do everything possible to guarantee quality,” Novasio adds. “We want people to feel comfortable and safe purchasing our products.”