The legality of Kratom has been a concern for many people around the world. The herb from Southeast Asia has proved quite beneficial, so everybody wants it to be legal. Kratom has been used to treat a variety of conditions such as chronic anxiety, erratic mood, and stress.
In addition to this, testimonials of Kratom users online also show that a majority of them are using the leaves to treat various conditions that would normally need prescription drugs. Kratom has been known to offer relief for arthritis, fibromyalgia, depression, back pain, and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
For the last few years though there has been a renewed push by the federal agency to ban Kratom. They argue that the herb offers very minimal health benefits while posing various health risks. Although a few regions around the world have moved forward with the ban, Kratom is still legal in others.
In some countries, there’s a grey area in the law. This makes it very hard to determine whether the herb is legal or not.
It’s, however, important to know for sure that Kratom is legal in your country before you decide to use it. But before we give you a breakdown of its legal status, let’s first of all look at the history of Kratom in various parts of the world.
Kratom might be a new medicinal herb to the western world, but it’s been around for centuries. The tree originates from Southeast Asia. Its leaves have been used by communities there for hundreds of years as stimulants. For a very long time, no rules or regulations were governing the use of this herb.
In the 1800s, however, Kratom was discovered by Dutch colonizers in the region. They were intrigued by the plant and decided to bring it with them to Europe for further investigation. Despite this, Kratom became popular in the West only in the 2000s. For hundreds of years before then, the number of users was significantly small. However, the herb has gained traction in the last two decades across the western world. For instance, the American Kratom Association claims that in 2016, there were about 3-5 million Kratom users in the US alone. In addition to this, the Kratom industry is valued at $1 billion.
The Legal Status of Kratom in Different Countries and Continents
Here’s a simple breakdown of the legal status of Kratom in various parts of the world:
In 2016, the DEA announced a plan to put Kratom and all its active ingredients under Schedule 1 drugs. The DEA noted that the opioid-like ingredients in Kratom posed some health risks for the public. However, the proposal didn’t go through. It received a lot of backlash from the public, and eventually, the DEA decided to withdraw it.
At the moment Kratom is legal in the US. However, there are a few states that have banned it through local legislation.
Here’s the list
- San Diego California
- Rhode Island
- Jerseyville Country in Illinois
- Columbus City Mississippi
- Union County Mississippi
In other states and counties, you are allowed to use and even grow Kratom. The FDA is not involved in regulating the herb. You don’t need a prescription to buy it either. Despite this, you cannot sell and market Kratom as a drug in the US. The FDA demands that all drugs go through clinical trials before they are approved. But vendors market it as a legal dietary supplement.
Canada doesn’t have explicit laws on Kratom. It’s just not clear where the government stands on this. But there have been calls recently for the state to step in and ban the use of Kratom. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada, Kratom is only illegal if the person possessing it has the intent to ingest.
However, selling it through vendors are allowed. Kratom powder and capsules are widely available across the country. As long as you don’t intend to ingest it, you are probably on the right side of the law. But enforcing this law is quite problematic. Many argue that it’s very difficult to determine intent. This has kept Canadian law enforcement in a grey area when it comes to Kratom laws.
The European Union has enacted a lot of integration policies. Despite this, individual countries still have their drug laws. In the United Kingdom, for example, it’s illegal to deal with Kratom in any way. In 2017, Ireland also listed Kratom as a Schedule 1 illegal drug. This means that possessing or using it in Ireland is against the law.
In countries like Latvia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Sweden, Lithuania, and Poland, Kratom remains a controlled substance. Italy too has outlawed the sale, importation, or possession of Kratom. However, in Finland and Denmark, you can buy Kratom with a prescription from the doctor. But the herb is still illegal in the two countries.
Germany, on the other hand, is not explicit with the Kratom law. Although the herb is not illegal in the country, it’s categorized as an unapproved drug. This makes it illegal to buy, sell, import, or use it.
The rest of Europe is, however, a little liberal with the herb. You can buy, sell, or use it without any fear of legal trouble.
Australia and New Zealand
Australia banned the use of Kratom in 2003 after it categorized it as a narcotic substance. The government expressed fear that it’s possible for people to abuse it. However, there hasn’t been even one single incident of Kratom abuse reported in Australia.
New Zealand too has the same strict laws. In 2009, the government enacted a ban on the herb making it illegal to buy, sell, import, or use it. However, people with a doctor’s prescription are exempted from this law.
It’s impossible to use Kratom freely in some parts of Asia. This is quite ironic since the herb originally comes from this region. ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries have all listed Kratom as an illegal product.
Infusing the herb with other medicinal plants or dietary supplements is also not allowed. Selling, buying, or using Kratom in these countries will land you in trouble.
The ASEAN block features some countries which include:
Kratom originally comes from Indonesia and Malaysia. It’s hard to understand how the herb is grown, harvested, and exported to other western markets despite the local ban. But there are still a few grey areas in the law. While it’s illegal to possess or use Kratom leaves in some of these ASEAN countries, you can still grow and export the product to other markets where it’s legal.
In addition to this, an amendment to the law in Thailand legalized the use of Kratom last year. But you still need to be very careful about how you handle Kratom in these countries. Don’t put it in your luggage or carry it with you when you are there. The ASEAN countries have very strict punishments for drug trafficking, so there’s no need for any risk.
In South Korea, it’s also illegal to possess, use, sell, or buy Kratom. Violations of this law will lead to a fine, jail time, or even both. The same also applies to Japan. But in China, the status of Kratom is still unknown. There are no specific laws that explicitly ban the herb. However, we do know that sellers that tried to list Kratom on TaoBao, China’s Amazon equivalent, were shut off from the platform.
This could suggest that perhaps the Chinese government is not that welcoming to Kratom yet. Besides, China has some of the strictest opioid laws in the world. It’s not the kind of place you want to be caught with an illegal substance. In that case, even if the law is not explicit, there’s no need to risk it.
India, however, has legalized the use of Kratom. But it’s not the real Kratom per se. There is a tree from the Mitragyna family in India. The tree has the same effects as Kratom. Indian vendors market it as Indian Kratom. Although it’s much cheaper, it’s not nearly as effective as the real product.
Latin America has a huge grey area when it comes to Kratom use. There are no explicit laws in the region that govern this herb. Only Brazil has explicit legislation that legalizes the use of Kratom. It’s not possible to say whether it’s illegal in other parts of the region. However, users have reportedly traveled with Kratom in Latin America without any issues at all.
However, if you are traveling from Latin America to the US, you may want to leave the herb behind. Border agents have in many cases mistaken Kratom with coca leaves. You may find yourself in a holding cell for a few hours before this is cleared up.
Can You Travel with Kratom?
If you plan to travel with Kratom, you must understand the legal status of the herb in the destination where you’re headed to. If the product is legal there, then you won’t have anything to worry about.
The great thing is that Kratom is legal in most parts of the world. If you travel a lot, many countries will be accommodating. However, if you are not sure whether the laws are permitting, leave the product at home.
There’s no need to risk fines and possible jail time. This rule also applies to countries that don’t have explicit laws. If the legal status of Kratom in the country you are heading to is ambiguous, don’t travel with it.
Will the DEA and FDA Ban Kratom?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have both raised serious concerns about the use of Kratom in the US. The two government bodies have also been pushing for a ban on the herb, but they haven’t succeeded so far.
In 2013, the FDA released a statement saying that it didn’t find any medical purpose for Kratom. There was also a very elaborate plan by the DEA to list the product under Schedule 1 controlled substances. This list contains other dangerous drugs like heroin. But activists that support the use of Kratom in the US were able to push back, and the plan was withdrawn. It’s very likely though that the FDA and the DEA will continue to push for a ban.
The Risk of Addiction to Kratom
Kratom is an addictive substance. If used chronically, it will lead to dependency. Not many cases of addiction have been reported around the world, but it’s very important to take this herb in very small doses. In addition to this, Kratom may have very serious physical and health-related effects if it’s abused.
Just because the product is legal in many countries doesn’t mean that you can use it the way you want. In case you are already addicted, you can start detox and rehab sessions to end the dependency. Kratom has many positive health benefits, but just like any other medical substance, there are limits in the amount you can use at one given go.
From our analysis above on the legality of Kratom, it’s safe to say that this is a fairly acceptable product in many parts of the world. But the law is fluid, and it keeps changing all the time. Kratom vendors are always advised to stay ahead of any new legal developments regarding Kratom. This will ensure that all regulations are observed in the sale and distribution of this herb. The good news is that many studies are already underway to determine the health benefits of Kratom. If indeed the studies are positive, they could open a new window for the global legalization of Kratom.