A tropical plant that has stimulant and opioid-like effects, kratom is becoming more popular in the U.S. It can be found in Mitwellness, liquor shops and even some Starbucks locations. But if you take it for a boost of energy or to ease pain, you should be aware that kratom laws vary by state. As of 2022, 22 states have kratom policies, with some allowing it while others ban or limit its sale and possession. The American Kratom Association is pushing for a unified kratom law that would allow for the safe consumption of this substance.
The FDA hasn’t approved kratom as a medical treatment, but the agency has warned consumers about potential health risks including addiction and liver damage. The agency has also noted that kratom could interact with opioids to increase the risk of addiction and withdrawal symptoms. In addition, the FDA warns that kratom hasn’t been tested for safety and purity. And if the herb is combined with other drugs, it can lead to a dangerous combination that may cause seizures and death.
Many of these warnings stem from isolated incidents that have tainted kratom’s reputation as an effective pain reliever. For example, the CDC’s 2018 salmonella outbreak linked to contaminated kratom supplements damaged its popularity in some states. Other issues that have been raised include claims that kratom can act as an opioid substitute and its unproven effectiveness for other conditions.
As of 2022, kratom can only be sold legally in some states, and in those, it must be purchased at a pharmacy or a licensed vendor who follows specific sourcing requirements. A few states require a doctor’s prescription before purchasing the drug.
In addition, there are stricter sourcing requirements and packaging rules in states that have legalized kratom. For instance, a bill in Rhode Island would require kratom vendors to carry government-issued ID and display a product label that provides the manufacturer’s name, batch number and ingredients. The bill would also bar anyone under 21 from selling kratom.
Another law, passed in Colorado in 2022, requires kratom sellers to check a person’s age before selling them the drug. The bill also makes it a crime to manufacture, distribute or sell kratom that’s been tampered with or contaminated with another controlled substance like fentanyl.
A growing number of people are turning to kratom for pain relief and other benefits, such as increased energy and lowered depression. Some are also seeking out a natural alternative to opioids for anxiety and other conditions. However, these drugs can cause side effects, including jitters, nausea, muscle tremors, constipation and itching. And if used in large doses, kratom can also lead to seizures and liver damage.
Moreover, if you are addicted to kratom or are concerned about your child’s use of the herb, an evaluation by an addiction expert is recommended. In some cases, kratom can even be more difficult to quit than other drugs. This is because the herb doesn’t show up on standard drug tests.