Kratom, a psychotropic drug derived from the leaves of a tree originally native to Southeast Asia and the Philippines, is legal in most cities and states in the United States. Internationally, Kratom’s legal status as a drug varies from country to country, but it is commonly legal to buy, sell and grow the plant.
What is Kratom
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical evergreen tree that is native to Southeast Asia. The plant’s leaves are classified as a psychotropic drug. Kratom is primarily produced where it grows natively, such as in Thailand and Indonesia.
Kratom can have the effects of a stimulant or an opioid, depending on the amount taken. The smaller the dose, the more similar the effects of kratom are to a stimulant. When the dosage increases, kratom’s effects become more like those of an opioid.
Typically, kratom is used as a replacement for opioids and as a way to counteract opioid withdrawals. Kratom is most commonly consumed as a crushed powder inside of a capsule pill or brewed as a tea.
What is Kratom’s Legal Status in the United States?
Kratom is legal to buy, sell, and grow in most states. However, kratom is illegal in the following states:
Kratom is also illegal in the following cities:
- Denver, Colorado
- San Diego, California
- Sarasota, Florida
- Washington, D.C.
Though kratom is legal on the federal level, in 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considered designating it a Schedule I drug, which would have banned it nationwide. Thanks to a campaign orchestrated by the American Kratom Organization that garnered 142,000 petition signatures and key support in Congress, the DEA backed off the consideration.
Even still, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a more serious stance on kratom in the last few years. The FDA warns that kratom offers zero medical benefits and has the potential to be both addictive and deadly, like other opioids. The FDA identified 44 deaths related to kratom use as of 2017.
The FDA also does not believe that kratom should be used to treat opioid withdrawals related to opioid addiction and insists that FDA approved treatments such as methadone are safer and more effective.
What is Kratom’s International Legal Status?
Different countries have different laws regarding kratom’s legal status. Here are a few examples of kratom’s availability and legal status internationally, as of early 2019:
- Australia: Kratom is illegal in Australia because it is considered a narcotic.
- New Zealand: Kratom is legal in New Zealand as a prescription drug. It is illegal to sell it or acquire it outside of it being medically prescribed.
- Italy: Kratom is legal to buy, sell, and grow in Italy.
- Ireland: Kratom is legal to buy, sell, and grow in Ireland.
- Belgium: Kratom is legal to buy, sell, and grow in Belgium.
- Canada: In Canada, it is not legal to market kratom for ingestion but it is legal to market and sell kratom as an incense.
- Thailand: In 2018, Thailand legalized the production, import, export, and possession of kratom products for medicinal purposes.
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Gutierrez, Lisa. “What you need to know about kratom as the feds crack down on the herbal supplement.” June 1, 2018. Accessed April, 4 2019
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is Kratom.” September 2018. Accessed April 3, 2018.
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. “Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) drug profile.”
Food and Drug Administration. “FDA and Kratom.” Accessed May 5, 2019.
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