Is Kratom legal in Ohio?

Is Kratom legal in Ohio? Kratom is a substance often labeled as an “herbal supplement.” It has been around for years and is used to treat a number of conditions. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2021 an estimated 1.7 million Americans reported using Kratom. In fact, economists are estimating that the Kratom industry in the U.S. is worth 1.3 billion dollars and will only continue to grow. Although not FDA-approved for any uses medical or otherwise, Kratom remains legal in many states nationwide, including Ohio.

Because of inadequate scientific research and data, Kratom cannot be lawfully marketed in the U.S. as a drug product, a dietary supplement or a food additive. The FDA has continued to issue warnings for Kratom use. Stating it has no medical benefits and can contribute to the development of adverse side effects such as liver conditions, potential seizures and even substance use disorder. In a 2014 study, more than half the Kratom users ended up developing a physical and psychological dependence on the herbal substance. Despite the warnings, millions of Americans continue to use Kratom for various purposes.

Small bowls of powdered kratom and kratom in pill form sit on a wooden tray with a kratom leaf. This invokes the question of is Kratom legal in Ohio.

Kratom is derived from the leaves of a tropical tree native to the Southeast Asia region. The leaves are dried, brewed into teas or can be milled into a fine powder. Fine powder is a popular substance and is generally considered the most legal form. Kratom contains two main chemical compounds: mitragynine and 7-OH-mitragynine. Both of these ingredients bind to the mu opioid receptors, which affect chemical systems of the brain such as serotonin and dopamine.

For centuries in Southeast Asia, Kratom has been used as an alternative medicine to self-treat a wide range of conditions. Some conditions include general pain, a coughing suppressant, an antidiarrheal and even an agent for treating opioid use disorder and withdrawal. In low doses, Kratom is known to produce stimulant-like effects. This includes high energy, alertness and sociability. It can even help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. In higher doses, Kratom can produce opioid-like effects. This includes drowsiness, euphoria, calmness and loss of motor coordination. This can often lead to addiction and overdose.

This herbal substance has potentially addictive properties and can cause the following side effects when used:

  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Mental confusion
  • Nausea
  • Itchiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased urination and constipation
An green infograph shows facts about Kratom's legality and describes side effects of what a low dose and high dose of kratom can produce.

The Legality of Kratom in Ohio

Because Kratom has not been FDA-approved for any uses, there are currently no federal regulations surrounding the substance. Because of that, each state has its own regulations and expectations of Kratom. Kratom is banned in Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Vermont, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Washington D.C. and a few other major cities in the U.S.

Despite being legal in many parts of the U.S., there are some restrictions on Kratom processing and purchasing. Kratom cannot be labeled as “safe for human consumption” because the FDA has not officially approved it. Kratom products cannot be labeled as “infused.” And “consumable” forms of Kratom can be subject to questions of legality because only pure Kratom powder is considered to be completely legal.

Unregulated substances can pose a potential danger to consumers. Consumers are unaware of where the substance comes from, what other ingredients the substance contains or can be mixed with and how the substance is processed is unknown. The bottom line is, you just don’t know what you may be ingesting into your body and if it could be dangerous or even life-threatening.

Kratom in Ohio is widely available and unregulated. The state has attempted to ban the substance in the past but was unsuccessful in the process. Because of all the uncertainty around the substance, state agencies have begun to create policies and regulations in order to keep consumers of Kratom safe. One such regulation being considered is House Bill 236, also known as the Kratom Consumer Protection Act. The main objective of the bills is to help guarantee the purity of Kratom powder being sold in retailers throughout regions of Ohio. It would require the Ohio State Department of Agriculture to set standards for Kratom processing and selling by:

  • Monitoring and regulating the processing of Kratom
  • Creating mandatory licenses for processors of Kratom
  • Establishing criminal penalties for violators
  • Inspection of any place or area Kratom is being processed, distributed or sold

The bill would also help guard against vendors adding unknown ingredients to Kratom. It would then prohibit the State Board of Pharmacy from listing Kratom as a controlled substance. If passed, it would explicitly prohibit the Ohio Board of Pharmacy from regulating Kratom as a controlled substance.

According to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, Kratom was found to have criteria that could lead to potential substance abuse in which users are able to build up tolerance and experience symptoms of withdrawal. This has advocated for banning or controlling the substance concerned. It led to a number of attempted Kratom regulations in the state of Ohio.

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Timeline of events to keep Kratom legal in Ohio

  • In March 2019, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy voted to reclassify Kratom as a Schedule I substance putting it under the same umbrella as drugs like cocaine, heroin other “hard” drugs. This was under the Senate Bill 239.
  • The American Kratom Associated began working to overturn this decision and in August 2019, were able to successfully delay any official ruling.
  • That same month in August 2019, House Bill 318 was introduced and would aim to create regulations and guidelines for Kratom sales and purchases in Ohio. Individuals must be 18 or over to purchase Kratom. All Kratom products need to carry a label that clearly states the ingredients. Kratom vendors need to apply for a special license to sell the product. Kratom vendors need to lab test their products before selling them to consumers.
  • In March 2022, House Bill 236 was also introduced to help establish a detailed guideline for Kratom sale, purchase and possession. This bill required the Ohio Department of Agriculture to form a program responsible for monitoring the processing and sale of the herbal substance. This included creating a special license to obtain Kratom, an established procedure for testing and compliance of products, a set of labeling standards, and procedures and requirements for product transportation.

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Today, there is no official ban on Kratom. An estimated 10 billion Americans use Kratom for varying purposes. But there is still very little scientific research and data available on the substance. Kratom in powder form seems to be the most accepted form of the substance that has not caused legality troubles for sellers and buyers. In Ohio between 2016-2018, the state’s Department of Health found an estimated 15 unintentional drug overdose deaths were associated with Kratom.

When used in high doses, Kratom can begin to mimic the same effects as an opioid. This leads users to develop an opioid-like addiction. Once physical and psychological dependence has set in, it can users can also experience intense withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop using Kratom. Medical facilities specializing in behavioral addictions, such as Hotel California by the Sea, offer unique programs for those struggling with substance use disorders.

The Kratom addiction rehab program offers detox, residential treatment, PHP and IOP programs. Throughout each level of care, clients can expect to receive evidence-based treatments and the experience of a clinical rehab facility. Specialized treatment methods such as CBT, DBT and family therapy help clients understand the intricacies of any co-occurring mental health conditions they may have in addition to their substance use disorder. Hotel California by the Sea offers clients an individualized care plan to help them overcome their addiction to Kratom or other mind-altering substances.