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Is Kratom Legal On The State And Federal Levels?

is kratom legal

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Kratom legal map shows that its use is approved in several countries and states in the US. However, due to its high potential for abuse, the FDA and DEA are issuing warnings to consumers to avoid its use.

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Kratom Legality In The US

Officially, kratom is legal in the US on the federal level. There are no federal restrictions to sell, possess, use, or grow different types of kratom or its products in the country. However, FDA banned importing and manufacturing dietary supplements that contain Mitragyna speciosa as an ingredient. There is obvious reasoning behind such a decision: in many countries, as well as in the US, kratom has become a growing concern of public health.

What Are The FDA’s Recommendations?

The FDA does not recognize any medical use for Mitragyna speciosa. Together with the DEA, the agency is fighting against its legality by suggesting a kratom ban. They continuously warn consumers about the drug’s safety because of several issues.

One of the major reasons is misbranding. The kratom legal status allows vendors to sell it. In their marketing campaigns, they claim that the plant helps patients diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and even cancer. Despite there is a number of research that reports benefits of Mitragyna speciosa use among such patients, there is insufficient evidence to claim that. The plant intake for alleviating the symptoms of opioid withdrawal is also a rising concern.

Some products are contaminated with Salmonella leading to the outbreak of the disease across the US in 2018. The investigation helped to recall the contaminated products; however, it did not affect the legality of kratom. The FDA also has identified heavy metals in Mitragyna speciosa products, specifically lead and nickel exceeding the safe amount for a daily intake of the plant.

The FDA, along with the Department of Health and Human Services, is recommending the DEA to change kratom drug classification to  Schedule I substance, making kratom illegal. The main argument is that the plant poses a high risk of drug abuse and addiction. These pieces of evidence, corroborated by statistics, are crucial documents in the process. These afford greatly affect the kratom price in the US.

Kratom Legality By State

While the plant remains to be federally legal, kratom laws differ by state. Some states ban Mitragyna speciosa cultivating, selling, possessing, and use, making kratom illegal.  At the same time, other states have limited restrictions or none at all. Below is a table representing kratom legal status in different states.

What States Have Banned Kratom?

Currently, 6 states have totally kratom banned. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. The local governments made that through legislation or by listing Mitragyna speciosa as a Schedule I substance.

 
State Laws and Citations Year
Alabama Senate Bill 226
Alabama Code § 20-2-23
2016
Arkansas Department of Health Proposed Update to Controlled Substance List
Arkansas List of Controlled Substances
2016
Indiana Senate Bill 305
Indiana Code §§35-31.5-2-321, 35-48-2-4
2014
Rhode Island Department of Health Notice of Designation
Rhode Island Controlled Substance Act
2017
Vermont Vermont Regulated Drug List
18 Vermont State §4201 et seq.
2012
Wisconsin Senate Bill 325 (2013-2014)
Wisconsin Stat. § 961.14
2014

States Where The Plant Is Legal With Partial Restrictions

Kratom legal status in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, and Ohio comes with restrictions.

In California, kratom is legal but not in San Diego and Oceanside. The San Diego City Council chose to impose a total Mitragyna speciosa ban within the city limits in June 2016.

Mitragyna speciosa is legal across Colorado state except for Denver. Human consumption of the plant was restricted in Denver in 2017 by the state’s Environmental Health Department.

In 2016 and 2017, several efforts have been made to enact bills that make Mitragyna speciosa illegal in Florida. However, they were all unsuccessful. In 2014, Sarasota County approved the ban, listing Mitragyna speciosa as an illegal designer drug within county territory.

The Kratom Control Act prohibits the use by minors in Illinois. Since August 2019, possession and selling of Mitragyna speciosa within the village of Glen Carbon is illegal. It is also not legal in such cities of Illinois as Alton and Jerseyville.

In Mississippi, a total of 33 counties and towns made kratom illegal. There was an attempt to ban it statewide in 2018, but it failed. As a result, the residents and officials decided to tackle kratom legality by local governments.

where kratom is legal

States Where Kratom Is Legal

In the rest of the states, the legality of kratom remains the same as on the federal level. Most of these states continuously tried to pass the ban of Mitragyna speciosa. Some still make the efforts, while others wait for the official FDA ban. Anyway, the list of the US states where kratom is legal includes:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Oregon
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Is Flying With Kratom Legal?

In the absence of a federal ban on Mitragyna speciosa, one may still carry the plant or its products to the US, except for the states where kratom is illegal. If one is caught with kratom supplements in these places, there are legal actions to face.

Kratom legal status is constantly changing in many US areas. Before flying anywhere with the plant, it is important to know if one’s destination approves the possession and use of the substance.

How Old Do One Have To Be To Buy Kratom?

In states where the drug is legal for use, buyers should be at least 18.

Will Kratom Become Illegal In The US?

There is no drug prohibition by the federal law, but the FDA and DEA have already taken precautionary measures by warning the public about false claims, safety issues, and its high potential for abuse. It is now up to the DEA to decide whether or not Mitragyna speciosa should be classified as a Schedule I drug and impose a DEA Kratom ban.

Some deaths being linked with this drug also involved alcohol and other substances. Unless the federal law declares a total ban, it’s the state’s decision whether or not to allow the substance.

kratom legislation in other countries

The Legality Of The Plant In Other Countries

Asian countries have different stands on kratom legality. In countries like Japan, Malaysia, Israel, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, and South Korea, it is legal. The growth of Mitragyna speciosa in Thailand is illegal, but the country allows the plant usage for medicine. Kratom legal status in China remains uncertain; however, in Hongkong, it is legal.

In European countries like Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Sweden, Mitragyna speciosa is illegal. Other countries in the region are less restrictive, though.

In Australia, Mitragyna speciosa is not legal, as well as in New Zealand. However, New Zealand doctors can legally prescribe Mitragyna speciosa products in certain cases. The import and export of the plant are also illegal in New Zealand.

Canada has the same restriction as in Denver, Colorado. The kratom law here makes the plant not legal to be used for human consumption, but non-consumable products like incense are allowed.

Seek Professional Help in Case of Abuse

Despite all the laws and preventive measures enacted to help control Mitragyna speciosa use, some still take the drug for non-medical purposes. Any way of kratom intake can lead to addiction. In the case of abuse or addiction, consult a doctor immediately. Drug rehabs can help with the detoxification and withdrawal process. Treatment for substance abuse is complex but successful recovery is possible with the right approach.

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Sources
  1. Import Alert 54-15. FDA. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_1137.html.
  2. FDA Investigated Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Products Reported to Contain Kratom. FDA. 2018. https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/fda-investigated-multistate-outbreak-salmonella-infections-linked-products-reported-contain-kratom.
  3. Laboratory Analysis of Kratom Products for Heavy Metals. FDA. 2019. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/laboratory-analysis-kratom-products-heavy-metals.
    Dwyer K. Kratom. Office of Legislative Research. 2019. https://www.cga.ct.gov/2019/rpt/pdf/2019-R-0201.pdf.
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About Author

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Dr. Peter Grinspoon is an experienced physician with long-term clinical practice experience. As a former analgesic addict, Dr. Grinspoon knows precisely how important it is to provide patients with effective treatment and support. Medical writing for him is the way to communicate with people and inform them about their health.

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