Is Kratom Legal? Here’s Everything You Need To Know
These days, consumers and scientists are looking back to ancient remedies to find cures to modern ailments. One of the most popular and most controversial supplements on the market right now is kratom. But as with many other natural supplements, one of the big questions consumers have about this product is “Is kratom legal?”
Kratom legality is something of a tricky question, especially in the United States. Read on to learn more about this supplement and discover whether it’s legal in your area or not.
What Is Kratom?
Before we dive into the complex facts about kratom legality, let’s talk some about kratom and what it is. Kratom is a plant native to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand whose leaves have been a part of traditional medicine for centuries. Users may chew the leaves, brew a tea using the leaves, or take capsules filled with dried and ground leaf powder.
Although kratom was originally valued for its purported medicinal properties, these days, it has found a new use. Many people promote kratom as a safer alternative to opioids, including heroin. They believe it can be a tool in addiction recovery for heroin, as well as for cocaine.
In addition to its potential as an addiction recovery tool, kratom is believed to have a number of health benefits. It is most popular as a painkiller, which is part of why people believe it may be a safer alternative to opioids. If proven safe and effective, kratom could be useful for managing pain in cancer patients, as well as those with chronic conditions like fibromyalgia or arthritis.
Many people also claim that kratom can be a safe, natural way to manage anxiety disorders. About 64 percent of self-reporting users said that it was helpful in treating their depression. And 87 percent of users who were taking kratom to manage an opioid addiction reported relief from their withdrawal symptoms.
Kratom Safety Concerns
So if kratom has so many amazing benefits, why is it still illegal in certain areas? Despite some of its purported benefits, kratom can have some very serious side effects, especially if overused. And since each plant is different, it’s very hard to control exact dosing, making it extremely easy to overdose by accident.
Some of the milder kratom side effects can include everything from nausea and vomiting to chills, sweating, and itching. Users may also experience hallucinations, delusions, difficulty breathing, seizures, and even coma. There is also some evidence to suggest that kratom can be addictive, meaning you may wind up swapping out one addiction for another.
Federal vs. State Regulations
In order to understand all about kratom legality in the United States, you must first understand how regulations work on the state and federal levels. Think of federal regulations as an umbrella rule covering all the different state rules. While each state can set its own regulations to an extent, federal law can supersede individual state policies.
For instance, let’s say that in your state, it’s legal to ride a camel down a public road, but it’s illegal on a federal level. Your state may not stop you from riding your camel, but the federal government has a right to come in and punish you. However, if there is no federal regulation dictating where camels may or may not be ridden, your state will determine whether your dromedary earns you a traffic ticket.
How Drug Scheduling Works
Next we need to understand a little about how the United States classifies different drugs for legal purposes. The Drug Enforcement Administration groups drugs into one of five distinct categories. These categories are called schedules, and they reflect how dangerous a substance is and, therefore, how legal it is.
Schedule 1 drugs are the most highly-controlled; they are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefits and include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and more. Schedule 2 drugs may lead to severe physical or psychological dependence if used and include fentanyl, Adderall, cocaine, meth, and more. Schedule 3 drugs have a low potential for dependence and include testosterone, anabolic steroids, ketamine, and more.
Schedule 4 drugs have a low potential for abuse and a low risk of dependence and include Xanex, Valium, and more. Schedule 5 drugs have a low potential for abuse and may contain limited quantities of narcotics. Examples include Lyrica, Robitussin, and more.
Federal Regulation of Kratom
In the United States, kratom is not federally regulated. This is an important distinction to make, since “not federally regulated” is not the same thing as “legal.” In this case, federal regulations will not overrule state laws, since there are no federal regulations in place.
Effectively, this means that the federal government has passed off the responsibility for kratom regulation to each state. The federal government will not get involved one way or another, and regulations vary by state. This also means that the federal government does not regulate the production or quality of kratom products.
States with Kratom Bans
There are six states in which kratom is entirely banned. You may not buy, sell, possess, or use kratom within these state lines. This includes crossing state lines to buy, sell, or use kratom and then coming back into the state where it is banned.
You may not have or use kratom in any form in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. A few of these states are considering legislation that would reverse these bans, but none have passed yet. Likewise, there are several more states which are considering passing statewide kratom bans, as we’ll discuss more in a moment.
States with Kratom Age Regulations
There are a few states where kratom is legal, but, like alcohol and tobacco, there are age limits. Most states set this age limit to 18, making it illegal for any minors to buy, sell, possess, or use kratom. These laws generally operate very much like the ones for tobacco and alcohol.
Kratom is legal for people over the age of 18 in Illinois, though it is banned in Jerseyville City and the state is considering additional bans on kratom. New Hampshire residents over the age of 18 can also use kratom, though it’s illegal in Franklin city. North Carolina has similar regulations, as does Tennessee, though residents there must be 21 to use kratom, and only plain leaf kratom is legal.
States with Limited Legal Kratom
There are a few states where kratom legality varies by city or county. We’ve mentioned a few of these already: New Hampshire and Illinois, specifically. But there are other states which do not have the age limits these two states do and which have wider areas where kratom is banned.
In California, kratom is legal everywhere except San Diego, and Colorado allows kratom use everywhere except Denver, where it is illegal to sell kratom for human consumption. Parker Town and Monument Town, CO, also prohibit kratom sales, and kratom is banned in Sarasota County, FL. Mississippi has a number of cities and counties that have banned kratom, and the state is considering legislation to ban the substance.
States with Legal Kratom
As of this writing, most states allow kratom use, sale, purchase, and possession. Many states are considering bans, and several others have tried and failed to ban the substance in the past. Kratom is also legal in Washington, D.C., as of 2019, when the Controlled Substance Act was amended.
At the moment, kratom is legal with no age restrictions or county or city bans in:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
States with Pending Kratom Legislation
Although the list above may seem hopeful for kratom supporters and users, many of those laws are currently under review. There are several states currently considering legislation that would ban kratom. Those states include Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Likewise, there are several states that are considering legislation to lift kratom bans or that are even considering the Kratom Consumer Protection Act. The Kratom Consumer Protection Act regulates kratom and ensures that customers get what is advertised on the packaging. States that are currently considering or have passed this act include Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Action to Take
Whichever side of the kratom debate you fall on, you should be aware of the kratom legislation currently under review in your state. If your state is considering legislation regarding kratom, you need to reach out to your representatives and let them know how you feel. These representatives would include members of your state Senate and House of Representatives.
There may also be regulations under consideration in your city or county. If this is the case, you’ll need to reach out to your aldermen, city council representatives, and mayor. On the county level, you might consider reaching out to your county supervisor, sheriff, circuit clerk, and chancery clerk.
How to Contact Your Representatives
The idea of contacting your representatives may be all well and good, but how do you find them, and get in touch with them? Sites like My Reps can help you figure out who your representatives are on the local, county, state, and federal levels. These sites may also give you contact information, including phone numbers and mailing addresses.
Draft an email or a letter to your representative calmly explaining your views on kratom and the action you want to see taken. If your state or region is currently considering a specific piece of kratom legislation, be sure to mention it by name in your message. You can also call your representatives with the same message and encourage others in your circle to do the same.
Safe Kratom Use
If you live in a state where kratom is legal, always make sure you’re buying from reputable vendors. Since only a few states have adopted the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, most kratom vendors do not have to meet any sort of regulatory standards. Buying your kratom from a vendor you trust can help you make sure you’re getting what’s advertised on the bottle.
You should also always talk to your doctor before you begin taking kratom or any other sort of supplement. Not only can kratom have dangerous side effects if used improperly, it can also interfere with any other medications you may be taking. Your doctor will be able to advise you about how to create a health plan that’s safest for you and your specific needs.
Answer, “Is Kratom Legal?”
The question, “Is kratom legal?” is more complicated than it would seem to be at first. Because kratom is not regulated at the federal level, it falls to each state to decide how to regulate it. And while kratom is legal in many states as of right now, there’s a lot of legislation in the works that may change those laws one way or another.
If you’d like to learn more about kratom and other such supplements, check out the rest of our site at Lyf Fit. We have information about everything from peptides and vitamins to kratom and more. Read our kratom articles today to learn more about this controversial substance and whether you should ask your doctor if it’s right for you.