For several years, Thailand and other Asian countries have been relying on plants as natural herbal remedy for a wide variety of ailments. One of the rising trends in natural medicine is kratom, which has gained both fame and notoriety. In this article, we will discuss kratom use in the global scale, and how countries are treating this controversial plant in a legal standpoint.
Popularity of Kratom Use
Depending on the dose taken, kratom may produce stimulating or opiate-like effects. Apart from these effects on an individual, kratom use may also function as an energy booster and relief from mild pain. It is also known to be helpful in the management of withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate addiction.
Over the years, there has been an increase in the rate of kratom use across North America and Europe, where the plant-based substance is being used as a recreational drug, pain relief medication, or herbal aid in opiate withdrawal symptoms. Despite what many people claim about the effectiveness of kratom in managing different medical situations, some physicians and medical experts do not recommend kratom use because of its adverse effects after prolonged use.
What Kratom Users Say
People who use kratom have a lot of good things to say about the substance, as it provides an extensive range of benefits with regards to mood, stress and pain relief, and energy level. Those engage in kratom use say that it has helped them in the following areas:
- Improved concentration and alertness
- Mental drive
- Sense of happiness
In addition, kratom advocates say that it is safe when used as directed, but can potentially lead to serious health conditions if used as a recreational drug.
Different Strains of Kratom
Kratom types are divided into three colors: red, white and green. The colors refer to the stem and veins of the kratom leaves. Each color signifies the effect of the kratom leaf on the individual’s mind and body.
Red Vein Kratom
This is the best-selling and most widely available kratom strain in the market. They produce a pleasant, calming effect that can give peace of mind and a feeling of well-being and optimism.
Red vein is said to be suitable as an aid for individuals who have difficulty in sleeping (insomnia). It can be used as a replacement for pharmaceutical painkillers.
White Vein Kratom
This kratom strain is known for inducing a positive mood. It has the most stimulating and euphoric effect among the three strains. Because of this, it is taken as a means to increase alertness, concentration and positive perspective.
Some individuals who work long hours a day would take white vein kratom to help them feel stronger and more motivated.
Green Vein Kratom
The effect of this strain is described as somewhere in between of the red and green strains. It generates a subtle effect that can help the user to become more focused and enhances alertness. This provides a balance when mixed with the other two strains.
When green vein kratom is mixed with red vein kratom, it prevents the excessive anesthetic effect of the red vein kratom. On the other hand, when the green vein kratom is mixed with the white vein kratom, it prevents overstimulation of the white vein.
Kratom Use Around the World
Many countries have seen the positive effect that kratom provides in relieving pain and managing opiate withdrawal. However, at least 4 countries have already made kratom illegal. Meanwhile, several other countries have imposed strict regulations and labeled kratom as a controlled substance.
A kratom ban is in effect in four countries: Australia, Burma, Malaysia and Thailand. Under strict regulations from these countries, anyone who is caught using or in possession may suffer jail time. In some cases, death penalty can also be given as a way of protecting the majority from getting hooked on kratom.
Harsh regulations are being imposed with kratom use in Denmark, Finland, Germany, New Zealand and Romania.
Below is a list of kratom’s status in several countries.
|Australia||It is currently listed as Schedule 9 of the SUSDP. It decision was made in October 2003 during the National drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee meeting.|
|Brazil||Kratom is legal wherein leaves of the plant as well as kratom extracts are sold in local markets.|
|Belgium||Kratom is not a controlled substance in this country.|
|Canada||Kratom is a legal substance in Canada where it can be purchased, sold and used without limitations.|
|Denmark||In 2009, kratom was declared a controlled substance.|
|Finland||A prescription is required to be able to purchase kratom. Kratom importation is illegal.|
|Germany||It is classified as a controlled substance under Section 73 of the Medicines Act. Penalties are imposed on individuals found to purchase kratom online.|
|Greece||Kratom use is legal and the plant is no considered to be a controlled substance.|
|Hungary||Kratom is sold as incense which can be purchased at head shops.|
|Ireland||Kratom is not regulated by the country’s Misuse of Drugs Act.|
|Italy||Kratom may be used legally, and is not considered as a controlled substance.|
|Lithuania||Anyone caught in possession of kratom is subject to a criminal offense.|
|Malaysia||Kratom is illegal to be sold in Malaysia, unless a government license can be provided by the seller/trader.|
|Myanmar/Burma||It is illegal to grow and sell kratom in this country.|
|Netherlands||This country is one of the largest suppliers of kratom in Europe. Kratom is legal and can be purchased from smartshops and from online Dutch vendors.|
|New Zealand||It is classified under the same Schedule 1 of the Medicines Amendment Regulations Act of 2009. It is illegal to sell kratom without prescription. Importing and possessing is not illegal.|
|This is classified as a medicinal drug, which can only be accessible with a recommendation by doctors or government officials.|
|Poland||Kratom and its by-products are controlled substances in Poland.|
|Romania||Kratom ban has been implemented since 2010.|
|Russia||Kratom was illegal until its status was changed in 2011.|
|Sweden||It is currently illegal in Sweden but is not listed in any drug schedules. There are, however, some indications that the status may change in the future.|
|South Korea||Kratom is illegal and is strictly regulated.|
|Thailand||It is classified as Level 5 Narcotic, which makes it illegal to grow, possess, sell, or purchase in Thailand despite being used in the past as alternative pain relief medication.|
|United States||Kratom in the U.S. is not a controlled substance and is considered legal to grow, possess and use. There is no need for a prescription in purchasing kratom. However, several states in the U.S. are considering to regulate selling of kratom.|
Legality of Kratom Use in the U.S.
Although kratom is not considered as a controlled substance in the U.S., some states have implemented regulations with regards to the use, possession and selling of kratom. It is vital to known the regulations imposed by each state before considering to bring kratom in a particular state. Some states may require that you present a license and prescription.
Kratom ban is implemented in Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin.
There are at least 20 active chemicals found in kratom, which include opioid-binding receptors that may potentially lead to physical dependence and addiction. Despite the positive effects of kratom use, some countries have imposed a kratom ban due to its addictive potential.
Kratom may have been useful in relieving pain, but continued use may interfere with drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver and may cause dangerous interactions with other drugs. There have been reports of overdose in which some of them resulted to fatalities, most especially if kratom was used in combination with other drugs.
There are three kratom dangers that should be of major concern:
Most legislators fear that despite the positive effects that kratom use may provide, it has a higher risk of potentially being abused.
Absence of Regulation
No concrete scientific evidence can declare that kratom has an effect on human health, although the plant has been in existence for several years. There may be a need to conduct further studies to determine if kratom should be considered more of a help than a risk.
Negative Drug Interaction
Some individuals may be taking prescription medicines to help them manage their existing conditions, but a few of them may have used kratom in combination. When kratom is used with other drugs (even if they’re medically prescribed), it may cause some serious damage on the liver.
Kratom Abuse, Signs and Symptoms
Kratom is used as an herbal alternative in managing pain and withdrawal symptoms from opiate addiction. It is known under the following street names:
Since kratom is not a controlled substance in most countries, it can be purchase from headshops and online.
Signs and symptoms of kratom use may vary, depending on the amount of drug ingested. At low doses of kratom, they may exhibit stimulant effects, which are similar to but not as intense as amphetamine. These effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Greater alertness
- Heightened sex drive
- Impaired coordination
- Increased sociability
Higher doses of kratom may produce the following opiate-like effects similar to but less intense than morphine or oxycodone:
- Cough suppression
- Reduce pain
Kratom abuse may lead to harmful physical effects most especially when used in combination with other drugs including medically prescribed drugs.
Kratom dependence occurs after progressive intake of larger doses to achieve the desired effects. Withdrawal symptoms can also be experienced when kratom intake is suddenly stopped. Such effects are similar to opiate withdrawal, including the following:
- Abdominal and muscle pain
- Cravings for kratom
- High blood pressure
Statistics on Kratom Use
The popularity of kratom has been increasing as the availability of the substance online continues to rise and more people are openly discussing their kratom experiences.
A 2013 study showed that there is an increase in kratom-related cases as reported by the Texas Poison Control Database.
The exact number of teen kratom users may not have been determined as drug surveys do not include questions relating to kratom use. However, there are emergency room reports where teens were said to have taken kratom to get high. This is causing a major concern among authorities because kratom can become more appealing to teenagers. The availability of kratom has made it easier to purchase the substance than any other drug, and it costs much less than other drugs.