Originally from countries native to Southeast Asia, kratom is a tropical evergreen tree with leaves that are used for medicinal purposes. Locals consume kratom leaves by brewing, drying, or powdering the leaves into tea. They also use it as stimulant and sedative, and for treating digestive ailments and chronic pain. Because there haven’t been enough studies to understand kratom, it still hasn’t been approved for medical use. 

Today, kratom is slowly becoming a trendy recreational drug. Once used simply as an aid for withdrawal from opium dependence, now kratom is building a following of its own. Before it was known as a drug, opium has long been used as a mood booster, energy supplement, and pain reliever. It’s often taken in the form of a pill, extract, or capsule. Some people also use it to control their PTSD. However, authorities warn that the drug can be dangerous and have some harmful side effects. 

The Kratom Argument: Is It A Dietary Supplement Or Drug?

The answer to that is a bit blurry right now. FDA has strictly warned consumers against the use of kratom as they believe it has the same properties that expose users to the risk of addiction and dependence. FDA is currently encouraging more research to better understand kratom’s efficacy and safety.  

Studies that focus on kratom reveal that substances in kratom have the same effect as the opioid painkillers and can create similar effects in your brain. Some of the commonly reported side effects include hallucinations, seizures, and psychosis. However, it may also be beneficial for medical use as it has been a traditional medicine for many countries in Southeast Asia. 

Is Kratom an Illegal Drug in the U.S? 

Is kratom legal? Kratom is legal in the U.S. but it has recently been controversial. FDA and DEA have attempted to combat its usage in the U.S by pushing for a kratom ban, however, some scientists and advocates are fighting to keep it legal. And while it’s legal on the federal level, there are currently six states where kratom is considered illegal to possess, use, grow, and sell. 

The following states have imposed a ban on kratom so its illegal to buy, sell, possess, or use the product in these areas: 

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Rhode Island 
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin


Other states have more complex laws and have kratom only legal for use. Since it’s not considered as an illegal substance in most parts of the United States, kratom can easily be ordered on the internet. It’s often sold in tiny green powder packets or made into gums. You can find kratom in online shops and are often marketed as “alternative medicines” or supplements.

How About in Other Countries? 

In other parts of the world, countries such as Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, and several European countries have also started banning the substance. 

In China, kratom’s legality isn’t well-established. But since China has strict drug policies so many people have inferred that the plant is illegal. In Japan, kratom is illegal and there are policies banning the plant nationwide. South Korea too has illegalized kratom. It has prohibited exportation, importation, and use of the plant within the country. 

Kratom Studies and Future Improvements 

Despite millions of people in the United States, claiming to have already used the drug. Kratom is still out of the spotlight and might not receive as much praise and derision as marijuana. While many people simply want to use kratom to quit opioids, there are also a significant number of people who simply want it to get high. 

At the end of the day, the need to study and regulate kratom use is of utmost importance. Banning the substance can be an unwise move if we haven’t understood its potential yet. If Kratom has great medicinal properties that we can use, it should be studied and applied in drugs.