Kratom has previously, over the years been seen as an opiate substance and a substitute for cocaine and cannabis. This is because there were no researches and studies that proved otherwise. For this reason, it has been treated as an illegal substance in most parts of the world. Other parts and countries still lack enough regulations that define the legality of Kratom, and laws are surrounding it remain in a gray area with no clear definition.
Kratom is a drug that has become popularly known over the last few decades, although its use dates way back. It is at the center of a global controversy whether it should be banned or legalized. This is because this new drug is yet to be comprehensively understood and it also produces opiate-like effects to the body similar to those of cocaine.
Before we can deal with the issue of the legality of Kratom, there are some things that people still need to understand about the drug. This will shed some light on the different opinions about its legalization in different countries and states.
Things to Know About Kratom
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), also known as “kakuam” or “ketum,” is a naturally occurring plant in Southeast Asia and other parts of Africa. The use of this plant goes a long way back as farmers used to chew on it while working for an energy boost. It is, however, harmful to the body in some ways which prompt governments around the world to ban its sale and use within their jurisdiction.
Below are some interesting things to know about this recently discovered drug, with mind-altering effects:
- Kratom typically comes from the leaves of a naturally growing, tropical evergreen plant of the coffee family, found in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Papua New Guinea. However, it can also be grown in other parts where people use seeds or whole plants to come up with their plants.
- The plant has a very long history of usage, although it has only become extremely popular in recent years among most people in the world. It was used by farmers in Asia from long ago due to its ability to induce an energy boost while working.
- This plant is normally used or delivered into the body as a tea, or as a powder that is mixed in water and then ingested orally. There is also a capsule form of the drug.
- Kratom is also very easy to obtain nowadays, as people are opening up stalls and joints where the tea version of it is offered to customers throughout the day.
- It generally has the same narcotic effects on the body those of other opiates. Users have claimed that it relieves pain, boosts the mood, reduces anxiety, increases energy, etc. Other testimonials show that it can be used to treat other conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, arthritis, PTSD among others.
- Kratom, despite the benefits associated with it, can be very harmful to the body with adverse side effects which could result in death.
- Because it is becoming more and more available, people are ignoring the fact that Kratom can become highly addictive, and therefore, being placed with other addictive drugs in the market.
Having the above knowledge on Kratom will help us to analyze the legal issues surrounding Kratom and its use.
The Legality of Kratom
In the modern world, the current legality of Kratom remains a gray area for most countries as mentioned earlier. Kratom is internationally a legal drug; however, due to its ability to elicit opiate-like side effects, most countries have it federally banned. This includes prohibitions on the possession, purchase, and consumption of the drug in whatever form.
It is difficult to analyze the legality of Kratom in the whole world since every country has its laws and regulations surrounding it. To understand whether it is legal or not, it is better to analyze the situation in different countries. This will help consumers understand where it is and where it’s not illegal to possess the product.
International Kratom Status
Although most countries have still not clearly defined the laws on Kratom, below is a comprehensive guide on the legality of Kratom in different parts of the world:
- In a few countries, including the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Thailand, Kratom is scheduled as a prohibited substance. It was completely banned in Thailand in 1979 and Malaysia in 2003. This means that it is essentially illegal to possess, market, purchase/sell or use the product in these countries.
- In some other locations in the world, including Australia, New Zealand, and several European countries, Kratom remains a controlled substance. This means that there are specific limitations associated with the importing, marketing, buying, and selling, as well as the use of the product; but it’s not illegal.
- In Germany, Kratom was openly sold and imported by vendors without any regulations. However, as from 2011, the government listed it as an unapproved pharmaceutical drug, making it illegal to buy, sell, possess or import Kratom products. Any offenders risk jail time, as well as other fines and penalties as stipulated in the law.
- In many countries, including Burma, Denmark, Myanmar, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates, Kratom products are essentially illegal, without any compromise.
- In other countries, including Israel, Romania, and Poland, Kratom is registered as a controlled substance, while others, such as Norway, it is a prescription drug only.
- It is only a few countries in the world, including Canada, where Kratom is completely legalized. The laws surrounding it are very clear with no bans on marketing, importation, possessing and purchase of Kratom products.
The Legality of Kratom in the United States of America
All the above patterns in different parts of the world also apply to the United States of America. However, the legal system in the USA is a little more complicated than that of other countries. The problem arises due to the availability of both the Federal and State level legal systems.
The country also has a large number of enforcement agencies than most of the other countries, therefore, creating even greater complications. This makes the legality of Kratom in the country an everyday evolving issue where users should remain aware to avoid potential fines and penalties.
As of 2018, there are some regulations on Kratom in the US. Below is a clear clarification of the legality of Kratom in the USA.
In general, the use and possession of Kratom are legal in the US. However, it is important to note that the federal law is generalized, while each state has its legal system. This means that even though the national government places no regulations or bans on the use and possession of Kratom, the same does not apply to all the states.
Kratom may be legal, illegal or in the process of being regulated or banned in different states. Below are some of the states with clear laws surrounding Kratom:
- In California, Kratom is legalized except in San Diego, where there is a local ordinance.
- In Florida, it is legal to use Kratom, except in Sarasota County
- In Illinois, it is legal with Jerseyville as the exception, as well sale to those under 18 years.
- It is legal in New Hampshire for those above 18 years old.
- In Alabama, as of May 10, 2016, Kratom was listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance.
- In other states such as Arkansas and Tennessee, it is listed as a controlled substance that is essentially banned.
- In Indiana, it is listed as a synthetic drug that is banned, while in Wisconsin, only the primary alkaloids present in Kratom are listed as a Schedule 1 drug and therefore, is banned.
These are some of the states where the use and possession of Kratom are clearly defined by the law. However, the various enforcement agencies in the country also have a lot of concern with the legal status of Kratom in the country.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the US has raised major concerns on whether it should be legal or not. There have been calls to make it illegal in the entire country due to its psychoactive properties, as well as its addictive nature. However, some of the stakeholders feel that Kratom could be used to end the use of other opiates in the country.
In August 2016, the DEA proposed the listing of Kratom as a schedule 1 drug, same category as heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and cocaine, due to its opiate-like effects in the body. This would mean that it was completely banned. However, the proposition was removed in October, the same year.
The DEA proposed this because there were many poisoning calls relating to Kratom use being made in that year. Listing any substance as a Schedule 1 drug would mean that it has a high probability of use and abuse while offering no benefits to the body.
Lack of enough studies to state otherwise seemed to fuel the allegations until advocates of Kratom stated otherwise. They noted that there were numerous health benefits associated with the consumption of Kratom, despite the uncertainty of the actual side effects to the user. People said that Kratom was able to alleviate chronic pain, anxiety issues, as well as help in managing other conditions.
Studies were carried out to verify these claims. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), issued a health warning on Kratom, claiming it had “potential deadly risks.” This was backed by a total of 36 deaths in the country, which had no substantial evidence.
Current Legal Status of Kratom in the US
Following more studies carried out to determine the health benefits of Kratom to the body, it is quite clear to note that the allegations are true. Kratom can deliver numerous benefits to the human body, especially in mitigating chronic pain. However, this is not to mean that it doesn’t have any negative side effects.
In March 2018, the FDA sent out warning letters to companies that market and sold Kratom products in the country. This was sent in the line of these companies selling unapproved drug substances in the claims that they aid in treating opium addiction and withdrawal. The companies also claimed that Kratom products help in managing other conditions, even cancer, and strokes.
There is a need to carry out extensive research on the safety of Kratom if the product is to be legalized and listed as food and supplement. The studies will shed more light on the claims concerning the health benefits of Kratom to the human body and also the safety of use.
Currently, it is only in the following states where Kratom is illegal to use, purchase or possess:
It is also totally illegal for members of the United States of America Armed Forces to use Kratom in any form or for whatever reason.
Considering the above information, it is important for American citizens to stay vigilant to the changing regulations on the use of Kratom. This will help avoid being caught on the wrong side of the law and to avoid potential jail time, fines and penalties. Since the DEA and FDA have Kratom on their watch list, citizens must remain updated on the legal status of the product in the different states.
From the above information breaking down the legal status of Kratom in the world, it is clear to say that Kratom is legal except for specific countries and states. However, to avoid any potential lawsuits related to the use of Kratom products, vendors and users should remain informed of the changing status of Kratom legality in different parts of the world.
Various studies are also being carried out to establish the exact health benefits and side effects from the use of Kratom to help in the legalization process of the products.