Right now Kratom is legal in a multitude of countries throughout the world, but for this discussion I will stick to the good ‘ole US of A. Currently (as of March 2019) Kratom is legal in all but 6 of the 50 states. These States include Wisconsin, Indiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Vermont and Rhode Island. In each of the 6 cases, legislation was passed either without public knowledge or input, or by using loophole legal pathways that were specific to the state in question(Alabama and Arkansas). For example, the Director of Health in Rhode Island – Nicole Alexander-Scott – placed Kratom on a “Designation of Controlled Substance” list with no discussion or input from the voting citizens of her state. This took place without any due process, no public notification, nor any democratic process normally involved in such a legislative decision. In Arkansas a law scheduling Kratom was enacted in October 2015 without any public notice, discussion or due process. This was made possible by the Arkansas State Board of Health. Since 2016, every State that has proposed to schedule Kratom has been stopped or put on hold by the efforts of the American Kratom Association and the Kratom Community. An example of the effectiveness of our lobbying efforts is that of the state of Tennessee. Kratom was made a schedule 1 substance in Tennessee in 2014. Public outcry and lobbying efforts, as well research results from academic institutions made a clear case for the repeal of the Kratom ban. With the support of district representatives, and the Kratom community in Tennessee, the State Attorney General reversed the law that banned the plant and its use. The conclusion of the Attorney General was that Kratom in its unadulterated natural plant form, should not be criminalized and people in possession of Kratom should not be subject to criminal prosecution. This is a hallmark example of what can happen when genuine politicians respond to public outreach and education and then have the grace and professionalism to amend an improper legislative decision. We are grateful for this and we applaud the efforts of Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, Tennessee Senator Mark Green, and all of the Kratom Warriors and educators in the great state of Tennessee.
Where there exists a larger issue is in the fact that the FDA has enacted, in effect, a shadow ban against the plant by imposing import bans at customs. The FDA has even gone as far as to communicate with borders officials in South East Asia to make it very challenging to ship Kratom in to the United States. Import Alert 54-15 by the United States Food and Drug Administration states that due to the FDA’s perceived concerns about the safety of Kratom, all shipments shall be detained and held by customs for further investigation. This essentially makes it impossible to ship kratom under normal circumstances. It’s quite presumptuous for a government organization that is tasked with making recommendations to the DEA, to effectively mandate operational procedure and protocol in another government organization – in this case U.S.Customs. Especially considering that there is NO FEDERAL LAW on the books prohibiting or scheduling Kratom. The FDA has lobbied year after year for greater levels of control and influence on Supplements, Herbal Products, and even Essential Oils. So while the FDA does not have the power to enact a ban scheduling a plant such as Kratom, they have enough influence to push a market such as the Kratom Industry into a grey area where less scrupulous importers might feel inclined to operate outside the definition of legal compliance. Thusly making an easy target out of some Kratom importers and providing fuel for negative reporting as well as ammunition in their recommending that Kratom should be scheduled.
As it stands now however, Kratom is available in the United States. There is no Federal Law by the DEA placing Kratom in a Scheduled category, and only 6 states have laws prohibiting Kratom for sale or possession. Efforts are currently underway in ALL 6 states to provide evidence and education to legislators so that they can make a proper and informed decision and reverse the existing bans. Don’t forget! Your voice counts and if you live in a state where Kratom is scheduled, get involved in the fight and advocacy efforts. You can find out exactly how by going onto the American Kratom Association webpage and clicking on the link that pertains to your state and the current legal standing.