Kratom has been illegal in Southeast Asia for decades, but its rising popularity in the West is prompting a mixed response from regulatory agencies.
Kratom, the leaf of a Southeast Asian relative of the coffee tree which produces mild stimulant and opioid-like effects, looks to be causing some confusion in the US. The substance has been the subject of debate among the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), law enforcement officials and advocates on both sides of the table, and has recently been categorised as a Schedule 1 controlled substance (the same classification as heroin and LSD) in the state of Alabama.
Kratom has traditionally been used by labourers to increase productivity and as an herbal medicine in Southeast Asia where it is grown. It has been illegal in Thailand since 1943. But in the West, it is generally legal and quickly gaining popularity. Kratom powder, capsules and tinctures are widely available at head shops, gas stations and online. Its relatively recent introduction into popular use and the fact that there is no synthetic version available makes the process of determining its legality a murky one. Kratom remains, as Travis Lowin of the Botanical Legal Defense puts it, in a legal “twilight zone.”
Read the full article on the FDA crackdown on kratom.