Is Kratom Illegal? Kratom Legality & Reasons

Kratom leaf and powdered kratom
Mitragynina speciosa or Kratom leaves with powder product in white ceramic bowl and wooden table background, top view

What is Kratom?

Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa korth) is a tropical tree, native to Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and other parts of southeast Asia. The tree, leaves and other forms of extracts all bear the name Kratom. In its native home of southeast Asia, it has other names like Ketum, Kakuam, Biak-Biak, Maeng Da, Ithang among others. Nowadays, the tree can be found in other parts of the world including America and Europe as it continues to gain more attention and popularity. Kratom leaves contain psychoactive ingredients which fuels its stimulant and sedative effects on its users. But the question most users want answered would be, is Kratom illegal?

Kratom is not a universally accepted and legal substance and therefore not legal everywhere. Even though the benefits of kratom keeps mounting as users continue to attest to its help in managing stress, fibromyalgia, arthritis, depression, PTSD, back pain etc, the food and drugs regulatory authorities have continued to outlaw the use of kratom insisting that the health risks it poses and other negative side effects outweigh its perceived benefits. It’s important to note that Kratom has not been banned in a lot of places, therefore finding out the actual legality status of the use of kratom in your location is of great importance. In the west Kratom is largely used as a recreational drug as it is reputable as the “safe legal high”.

In 2016, the drug enforcements and administration (DEA) in the US, proposed to enlist kratom as a schedule 1 drug alongside the likes of Marijuana and Heroine. That proposal received some public backlash and was rescinded. Note that the position of a drug on the schedule list doesn’t automatically determine its legality. It’s only a pointer to a drug’s potential for abuse as well as its medical value. 

Kratom is currently listed in the Drug Enforcement and Administration’s (DEA) “Drugs of Concern” registry, but this however does not prevent the sale or usage of Kratom in the United States.
Where is Kratom illegal? The legality of Kratom varies across the world. There is more information on the legality of Kratom in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Asia and SouthEast Asia etc on this Speciosa guide.

Is kratom Illegal in The US?

It is legal to grow, possess and use kratom in the United States except the following six states;

Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Vermont. There exists in those six states, Legal statutes and legislatures criminalising Kratom’s usage of any form.

Kratom is also banned in some cities and counties mainly in Illinois and Mississippi and a few other places. You should read further on the latest information on the legality of Kratom in the United states.

Why is Kratom Illegal?

Kratom pill and kratom powder
Herbal medicine capsule in brown bottle and herbs powder in wooden spoon with basil leaf on grungy wood table background. Herbs medical plant and nutritional supplement concept.

As earlier stated, the major issue with kratom’s total acceptance and legality lie in its potential to cause huge psychotic symptoms and other bodily harms to the users when taken in high doses. This is the same danger that other schedule 1 and 2 substances pose to its users. Kratom may eventually be made fully legal but it’s access and prescription must be adequately regulated and controlled by the appropriate authorities.

Benefits of kratom

There is no scientific information, upheld by regulatory authorities on benefits of kratom but research has shown that users derive innumerable benefits that have continued to fuel its increasing patronage.

  • It has  been used by the indegenous people of east asia as a stimulant and analgesic to treat muscle ache and fatigue. 
  • They also chewed the leaves to increase work efficiency by helping overcome fatigue by manual laborers.
  • Kratom has also been found to help, as an analgesic to stimulate tissue repairs and overall healing process by releasing a number of hyperalgesic mediators.
  • It has also been used as a substitute to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Kratom, when taken in low doses, acts as a stimulant and when in large doses, produces sedative and opioid-like effects on the users.
  • It has been found to also function as an Immunostimulant, anti hypertensive, antidiabetic, anti-leukemic, anti diarrheal and anorectic agent.
  • It also helps in managing stress, depression and PTSD.

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What are the side effects of Kratom?

There are a lot of health risks associated with high Kratom consumption. According to the DEA, Kratom when taken excessively or in high doses consistently, may cause some sedative effects and can lead to addiction.

There have been several cases of psychosis as some users have manifested high degrees of psychotic symptoms resulting from excessive usage of Kratom.

Other psychotic symptoms that may emanate from the use of Kratom include hallucinations, seizure, delusion, and confusion.

Users of Kratom may also experience weight loss, hepatotoxicity, insomnia and anorexia.

Kratom is also known to have bodily effects like constipation, dry mouth, nausea, tachycardia, itching, increased urination, loss of appetite, vomiting and so on.

Let’s look at what Washington Post thinks about Kratom’s side effects.

How Kratom is Used and Dosages

The primary mode of consumption of Kratom is orally. Kratom mostly comes in the form of pills, powders, capsules, raw leaves (dried kratom leaves), concentrated liquid extracts. Most users would add 1 to 2 drops of the extracts in their tea while some would use the 3 to 5 grams of the powder as a supplement in their tea as well. 

The capsules and pills may be used according to the manufacturer’s designated dosage as written in the product’s label. The leaves are mostly chewed to gain some kind of stimulation that mainly comes from the mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine contents of the leaves.

Kratom is currently not scheduled under the controlled substances act in the United states and therefore has no official information on its usage and dosage. Always consult your pharmacist or doctor for proper guidelines on how you may use Kratom or any of the derived products.

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Kratom has always been legal and has been widely used in its native East Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar among others. It was only banned in some countries when it was persistently linked to opioid related overdose deaths and other psychotic symptoms. Same were also the reasons for its ban in some states in the US, but studies have since shown that these adverse effects occur only when it is consumed in very high dosages.

Is Kratom approved by the FDA?

Even though it is not illegal to be in possession of Kratom or use it in most parts of the United States, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not granted any form of approval for the use of Kratom. In fact, FDA has maintained that there are serious concerns regarding the toxicity and harmfulness of Kratom on multiple body organs.

Does kratom mess up your liver?

Excessive use of Kratom, especially for the purposes of recreation, has been found to be associated with the risk of developing acute liver injury. It usually starts with some symptoms like dizziness, nausea, dark urine etc. Like every other drug or substance, moderation is the key to deriving only the desired benefits.

Does kratom affect the heart?

Yes, chronic use of Kratom can potentially lead to cardiac arrest. Studies have shown that Mitragynine, one of the key components found in Kratom, is associated with risk of seizures and cardiac arrest.

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  4. The Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. (December 2011). – The New England Journal Of Medicine.
  5. The federal drug scheduling system, explained. (August 2016). – Vox Media
  6. Kratom Legality 2021: Is Kratom Legal in my State?. (March 2021). –
  7. A Guide to Kratom Legality: Where is Kratom Legal?. (November 2020). –
  8. Biochemical Benefits, Diagnosis, and Clinical Risks Evaluation of Kratom. (April 2017). – Frontiers in Psychiatry.
  9. Kratom from Head to Toe—Case Reviews of Adverse Events and Toxicities. (September 2019). – SpringerLink
  10. Kratom use and mental health: A systematic review. (February 2018). – Science direct.
  11. Biochemical Benefits, Diagnosis, and Clinical Risks Evaluation of Kratom. (April 2017). – Frontiers in Psychiatry.
  12. Supraventricular Tachycardia. (March 2006). – The New England Journal Of Medicine.
  13. Kratom Fact Sheet for Heealth Care Professionals. (March 2019). – Oliver Grundmann (PhD) Et al.
  14. FDA an Kratom. (September 2019). – US Food and Drug Administration.
  15. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. (April 2020). – National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  16. Evaluation of the Cardiotoxicity of Mitragynine and Its Analogues Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes.(December 2014). – US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health.


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