Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a plant native to South East Asia, where it has been used as a remedy for various ailments for hundreds or even thousands of years. In the past years, kratom has arrived in the US, where it’s popular among individuals who are seeking natural ways to help them relieve pain, get extra energy, or to ease anxiety, to name a few.
But, regardless of kratom’s advocates’ efforts and the opinion of many scientists to keep kratom legal, there is still a lot of misinformation about this plant. Due to this, there are States and cities within the US where kratom is now illegal. In this article, we’ll explore kratom legality in the US. (Please be aware that this article was updated in February 2019).
Kratom is a plant from the coffee family which poses many properties. Most people use kratom to help them alleviate a variety of symptoms, such as pain, anxiety or even to mitigate the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. However, the lack of regulation and the misinformation that some are spreading about the plant, have made kratom a very controversial substance.
In fact, due to this controversy, kratom has been on the radar of the DEA and the FDA who have been making moves to schedule kratom under the Controlled Substance Acts.
Additionally, many kratom users are witnessing how it is becoming increasingly harder to buy online using a credit card. This is due to the fact that major credit card Companies and processors have declared kratom a high-risk product, therefore they’ve banned it for processing through the PCI processing departments across the US.
2016: DEA Move to Ban Kratom
Back in August 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration made a move to try to include kratom on the Schedule I list of substances, making it illegal to sell, buy or use. Also, they wanted to use their emergency scheduling powers to do so. The reason that they gave back then, was that they considered that the plant has a great addictive potential and no known benefits.
However, thanks to the efforts of many kratom users and advocates throughout the country, the DEA decided to backtrack on the move and opened an official comment period on December 2016. They received more than 20,000 comments, the majority of them opposing the move toward prohibition (according to some non-profit groups, only 113 comments were in favor of the DEA’s proposal to ban kratom).
Thanks to the public backlash, the DEA backed off on their decision to ban kratom, and the plant remains legal at the federal level.
2018: FDA Move to Ban Kratom
In 2018, the FDA started their own efforts to ban kratom. They started by claiming that the plant was responsible for 36 deaths. However, these claims were proven completely inaccurate.
Later, a salmonella outbreak happened, and the FDA linked it to kratom products. As a result, they issued a mandatory recall for kratom products from many vendors, as they thought they were contaminated by the bacteria.
At the end of 2018, the FDA released a warning against kratom products, due to heavy metal contamination.
And, to make things worse, the HHS has recommended the DEA to ban kratom.
So, unfortunately, as of today, we still don’t know what the future holds for kratom. That’s why it is crucial to keep fighting to keep it legal.
What is Kratom Legal Status in the US Today?
Although kratom remains legal in most states, there are some places where it is a controlled substance. Whether you are thinking of purchasing kratom online or you are planning to travel with kratom to other State, it is important to do a research first and find out if kratom is legal in the said place.
Below it is a comprehensive list of kratom’s current legality in the US.
States Where Kratom is Legal
When this article was published, kratom remained legal in the following States:
- California (however it is illegal in the cities of Oceanside and San Diego)
- Florida (but it is illegal in Sarasota County)
- Illinois (however consider that is not legal for minors, and it is completely illegal in the city of Jerseyville)
- Mississippi (although it is illegal in Union County and, at the time of this article it was just made illegal in the city of Columbus)
- New Hampshire (however, there is an age restriction of 18+)
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Ohio (there is a move to schedule kratom, so make sure it remains legal before you buy)
- Oregon (except for Ontario)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (however, be aware that only plain leaf is legal, and that you must be 21+)
- West Virginia
States Where Kratom is a Controlled Substance
Despite American Kratom Association and kratom’s advocates’ efforts, kratom is illegal in the following places:
- Alabama (since May 2016)
- Arkansas (since February 2016)
- Rhode Island (since May 2017)
- Washington D.C. (since December 2017)
Finally, consider that this article was updated in February 2019, to see kratom’s legality status at any time, we recommend you to check the American Kratom Association site.