Kratom is internationally mostly legal to buy and consume, apart from a few countries where it is scheduled as a prohibited substance:
- United Kingdom
In some of the locations (several European countries, Australia and New Zealand) kratom is a controlled substance, which places some limitations on import, buying and selling, but it is not illegal.
This pattern is also the case in the United States. But the problem with the United States is that it has a slightly different legal system to most other countries in that it has a two tier legal system, at federal and state level.
It also has more enforcement agencies than other countries, which complicates the picture further.
This makes the legal status of Kratom in the United States of America more difficult to keep up with. If you are a user then this could have legal ramifications which could catch you out.
So let’s clarify the legal status of Kratom in the USA as it stands in 2018, so that you are not put in an uncertain legal position.
The Battle Over Legality Of Kratom In The USA
The problem with kratom is a lack of evidence around its effects and long-term health benefits or dangers, alongside how it is viewed by the authorities in the United States of America.
The problem is that although kratom is not an opioid, it does mimic the main effects, including the euphoric feeling it can give at higher doses.
Coupled with this is that kratom is actively advocated and marketed as something people who are addicted to opiates such as heroin can use to help them get off such illegal substances.
So unfortunately, the authorities have historically viewed kratom as potentially in the same class of drug as opiates such as heroin. Although this is misinformation, without any proper official studies or data to form a solid opinion, it has created a confused battle that continues to rage.
The DEA & The FDA Want Kratom Banned
In 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) pushed to get the active ingredients in kratom added as Schedule 1 drugs, which would have put the purchase and consumption of kratom in the same category as heroin and LSD.
However, advocates of kratom pointed to the health benefits and uncertainty around the actual effects. They also pushed hard to make the DEA take note of the fact that Schedule 1 drugs are those determined to have a high level of probability of abuse, while offering no scientifically known benefit.
The fact that no real study has been undertaken, mixed with lots of people saying that kratom was alleviating chronic pain for a range of conditions, as well as helping them come off opiates, made the DEA step back.
However, despite studies starting to be undertaken into kratom, in 2017 the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory about kratom, claiming it had “deadly risks”.
They cited 36 deaths in the United States, but did not state either the time over which these deaths occurred, or whether other circumstances led to the deaths. As many opiate users try to deal with withdrawal symptoms, it certainly could be the case that they actually died of illegal drug overdoses.
And in a country where thousands die from gunshot wounds each year, 36 deaths over several years in completely uninvestigated circumstances almost makes a mockery of the FDA’s reasoning.
Anecdotal and increasing scientific evidence points to kratom being highly beneficial, pleasurable and having minimal negative side effects and dangers when used on its own, responsibly. The fact they were protests when the DEA tried to make kratom a Schedule 1 drug, shows that a lot of people feel very passionately about the positive effects of it.
But the new FDA attack shows how the legal picture in the United States will continue to change as different groups and agencies enter the arena with their own agendas.
Current Legal Status Of Kratom In The USA
The great news is that if you are in United States, unless you are one of only a few states then responsibly using kratom is completely legal.
The only places in the United States where it is illegal to buy, possess or use kratom are:
In addition, it is illegal for members of the United States Armed Forces to use kratom.
So generally, the great news is at the moment most Americans can buy and consume kratom completely legally.
Don’t Get Caught Out: Why The US Legal Status Is Complicated
But before we all for our hands up in the air and cheer, it’s important to understand that this legal status could change very quickly.
As we have discussed, both the DEA and the FDA have kratom on their “hit list”, regardless of scientific facts.
The other problem is that there is a two tier legal system in the United States.
Although at the moment, kratom is legal at federal level, and in most states, if it was to become a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, then this would overpower state law in some circumstances.
So it’s important you are aware that you are not complacent. If federal law outlawed kratom, you could still be prosecuted even if it was legal under your local state law.
But what is certain is that you will be aware if kratom is under attack because it will be big news.
When the DEA attempted to schedule kratom under emergency two-year addition, a petition of 150,000 people was created, backed up by state governors in many locations, plus street protests.
So you can rest easy that unless you are in a few states, you’re completely safe legally and unless you are taking other substances or do something crazy, completely safe physically and mentally using kratom.