Laws and Regulations

Is Kratom Legal in the U.S.?

Written by Robert Hammell

Kratom, a psychoactive botanical substance grown primarily in Southeast Asia, is not currently regulated by the federal government.[1][2] This means that it falls into a gray area legally. While it is possible to buy it online and in a variety of specialty stores, there is also no baseline for quality or safety confirmed by the FDA. This leaves two questions: Is it legal in my state, and what kind of quality am I getting?


Kratom Legality By State

Kratom is primarily purchased over the internet, and the entire United States market was valued at approximately $1.3 billion in 2019.[3] Even with the ubiquity of a strong online market, kratom has a comparatively small market to other drugs like cannabis ($17.8 Billion globally) or opiates ($22.8 billion globally).[4][5]  Thus far, kratom and its active ingredients have been banned in 6 states on the grounds of addictiveness and potential harm.[6] Meaning that for most states, if kratom cannot be found from a local retailer, it very likely can be legally purchased online.


Concerns About Kratom Use

Kratom works on the same areas of the brain as opioids.[7] Because of this, the FDA has raised serious concerns about the addictive potential of kratom. However, while kratom does have the potential to be lethal, but kratom has been associated with a far lower number of deaths than traditional opioids.[8][9] In an opioid epidemic, perhaps any solution is preferable to our current situation. Kratom presents itself as a natural alternative to traditional opioids, but without standardization, there is no guarantee of consistency from one purchase to another. So while kratom may be more widely available, there may be several risks that stem from a lack of government regulation.


Reference List

  1. Eggleston, W., Stoppacher, R., Suen, K., Marraffa, J. M., & Nelson, L. S. (2019). Kratom Use and Toxicities in the United States. Pharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy, 39(7), 775–777.

  2. Office of the Commissioner. (2022, April 27). FDA and Kratom. U.S. Food And Drug Administration.

  3. Williams, R. S., & Nikitin, D. (2020). The internet market for Kratom, an opioid alternative and variably legal recreational drug. International Journal of Drug Policy, 78, 102715.

  4. Legal Cannabis Market Size & Share Report, 2022-2030. (n.d.).

  5. Opioids Market Size, Trends & Growth Analysis Report, 2030. (n.d.).

About the author

Robert Hammell