Kratom, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, is a native drug in Southeast Asia and has earned a lot of legal, imperceptible and harmless acceptance in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The drug often comes both in capsule and leaf forms, and depending on what the user intends, the capsule can be ingested while the leaf can either be smoked or used as a tea. The substance in its powered or crushed form can be added to teas, or as part of a dietary supplement pill. Kratom comes in different variants among which are Bali Kratom, Maeng Kratom, Kali Kratom, etc. While Bali Kratom is the regarded as the standard with which all other strains of Kratom are assessed, Maeng Da Kratom stands out as the potent and effective of all other strains of the leaf tree.

The question of kratom legality

Although the media space abroad is rife with the question bothering on the legality or otherwise of kratom, at home in Thailand, where the substance originates, such question does not arise. As a matter of fact, Kratom is considered and promoted as a perfect replacement for some ‘hard drugs’ like opioid, abroad. On a large scale, Kratom is generally a legal drug in most parts of the world. There have been concerns raised about the effects of Kratom which many abroad have turned as relief for all sorts of physical and emotional health issues ranging from pain, depression, and symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The safety of the drug to public health and living is still largely under investigation.

In places like the United States, despite a couple of attempts made at blacklisting the substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is currently in the list of legally sanctioned export substances by the federal government of the US. However, some states in the US have prohibited the sale, distribution, and use of Kratom, while some are expediting action on its ban, For example, cities and states like Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington D.C, Wisconsin, Sarasota County (Florida), San Diego (California), Jerseyville (Illinois), Denver (Colorado) have all passed legislation that put a ban on the local sale and possession of the drug, with the exemption of Denver which allows kratom for other purposes except for human consumption.

The argument against kratom

The DEA, for instance, had in a recent (2016) move wanted to list kratom and its derivatives, such as mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragine, as Schedule 1 controlled substances following the uncertainties surrounding their safety and efficacy on the human system. The argument against kratom is that it’s derivative like mitragynine has the potential to produce opioidlike effects and interact with opioid receptors. However, the conclusions were based on experimental studies on animals and ligand-binding studies. Conclusions from anecdotal studies and commentaries from users on human beings suggest that effects of kratom could pose a similar threat as those of opioids.