Feel Free is sold to consumers 18 years or older in 17 retail locations across the Columbia area as well as in stores nationwide. (Photo by Riley Edenbeck/Carolina News and Reporter)

A company that sells a controversial tonic drink – whose ingredients include ground leaf kratom and kava root extract – plans to limit the 18+ product to only consumers 21 and older nationwide.

The change comes after an investigative news article about the tonic was published by the Carolina News and Reporter two days earlier.

“We are changing all packaging to reflect 21+,” Botanic Tonics CEO and founder JW Ross said in an email to the publication.

The change will be enacted across all of the company’s products, Feel Free Classic tonic, Feel Free tonic as well as both formulas in capsule form.

Ross said it will take 30-60 days for the change to be made on all packaging.

Feel Free has become increasingly sold in convenience stores in Columbia and across the country, despite potential health and addiction risks, as reported in the Carolina News and Reporter article.

The company said it’s continuously working to educate the public about its products after saying there was too little information advertised about the products when the company launched in 2020. 

The change follows interviews with Ross in which he expressed hesitation about the product being sold to young adults and offered to students on university campuses. 

He referenced an ethical debate between states over whether products like Feel Free should be sold at a minimum age of 18 or 21. 

“I just started feeling like that’s probably not something that’s the right thing to do,” Ross said earlier in April of keeping the sales age at 18. “My thought is, it probably should be 21, and if that’s the case, you shouldn’t be spending time on campuses promoting something that’s 21 and above.”

A poster advertises Feel Free Classic in the parking lot of One Stop Liquor Store in Columbia’s Five Points. (Photo by Riley Edenbeck/Carolina News and Reporter)

Feel Free is an official sponsor of the University of Texas and Florida State University’s athletic programs. (Photo courtesy of Botanic Tonics on LinkedIn/Carolina News and Reporter)