Possession of Kratom

“Mitragynine” or “7-Hydroxymitragynine” is commonly known as Kratom.

With the exception of Sarasota County, FL, kratom is currently legal to purchase and consume in the state of Florida. Although a few states either have banned or have pending legislation regarding kratom, the herb is legal in most of the United States.

Derived from a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, human consumption of the tree leaves results in “stimulant effects in low doses and sedative effects in high doses, and can lead to psychotic symptoms, and psychological and physiological dependence.” See A DEA Resource Guide, Drugs of Concern, U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration, 84, (2017 Edition).

To consume Kratom, the leaves of the tree are crushed and then smoked, brewed with tea, or placed into gel capsules. In recent years, the DEA has noticed a significant increase in the abuse of Kratom in the United States. 

The DEA has found that the substance is “abused by oral ingestion in the form of a tablet, capsule, or extract. Kratom leaves may also be dried or powdered and ingested as a tea, or the [K]ratom leaf may be chewed.” Id.

Scientists have found that Kratom has opioid components but is more complex than a traditional opioid. Similar to the way antidepressants work, some of the alkaloids in Kratom can act through the serotonin and norepinephrine systems. In the United States, Kratom is sometimes marketed as a dietary supplement, although there is not enough data to tie it to a medical claim.

The effects of ingesting Kratom usually begin within 10 minutes and can last up to 90 minutes.  A larger dose of 10 to 25 grams of dried leaves can have a sedative effect that can last for up to three (3) hours. Law enforcement officers receive training that suggests the impairing effects of Kratom can last for up to 6 hours, although little scientific evidence backs up that claim.

Attorney for Kratom Crimes in Florida

If you were charged with a crime related to the possession of kratom, then contact an experienced drug crime defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. During the free consultation, we can help you understand the charges pending against you, the potential punishments, and the best defenses to fight the charges.

We represent clients on charges involving the possession, possession with intent to sell, delivery, and manufacture of controlled substances and designer drugs like Kratom. Our main office is located in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County, FL. We also have a second office in New Port Richey in Pasco County.

We represent clients on drug crimes prosecuted throughout the greater Tampa Bay area, including Sarasota County, FL, where the possession of kratom was first criminalized as a county ordinance violation.

To discuss your case, call 813-250-0500.

Was Kratom Criminalized in Sarasota County, FL?

The Official Statewide Intelligence Drug Report from the Florida Drug and Law Enforcement (FDLE) found that some Florida counties have proposed ordinances related to kratom. At this time, however, Sarasota County is the only county known to have passed an ordinance related to the marketing of “designer drugs” among which is kratom.

The Sarasota County Municipal Code,  Sec. 62-351, regarding Kratom provides:

Regulation of designer drugs and misbranded consumer commodities.

(b)- Prima Facie Evidence—Designer Drug. A Designer Drug is: (1) Any capsule, pill, powder, liquid, vegetative material, product, or other substance, however constituted, including but not limited to any Synthetic Cannabis, Substituted Cathinone, or Kratom.

The Sarasota County Municipal Code,  Sec. 62-348, makes the following specific findings of fact regarding Kratom:

Sec. 62-348(a)- Due to its psychotropic and addictive nature, the U.S. Army and Navy banned use of Kratom, and the Drug Enforcement Agency has placed Kratom on the DEA Watch List.

(b)- Kratom has been shown to be addictive, evidencing a clear set of effects and side effects, ranging from dry mouth, insomnia, and anorexia to hallucinations, delusion, and confusion, and a consistent withdrawal syndrome (including symptoms of limb spasticity, hostility, aggression, and emotional lability).

(c)-Despite its dangers in use, Kratom is promoted as a legal psychoactive product.

(d)-Kratom is not currently scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act, but is controlled in Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar, where it is indigenous.

Read more about criminal defense in Sarasota County, FL.

Is Kratom a Controlled Substance?

Although the DEA has listed Kratom as a Drug and Chemical of Concern, it is not originally listed as a controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) published two active Import Alerts pertaining to the importation of products known to contain Kratom. The first alert, Alert No. 54-15, was created in response to a noticed “increase in the number of shipments of dietary supplements and bulk dietary ingredients that are, or contain Kratom.”  See https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_1137.html.

The second alert, Alert No. 66-41 , was aimed at combating “the marketing or promotion of unapproved drugs to individuals residing in the United States.” https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_ 190.html.

Import Alert No. 54-15 explained that “there does not appear to be a history of use or other evidence of safety establishing that [K]ratom will reasonably be expected to be safe as a dietary ingredient,” and that there are “serious concerns regarding the toxicity of [K]ratom in multiple organ systems.” See Id.

In 2016, Kratom was classified as a schedule 1 drug which includes “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

At last count, Kratom was illegal in six states and a handful of cities and counties across the country. Legislation is pending in several other states for regulating the drug. Because such a large number of people claim to have positive experiences when using kratom, its regulation is controversial.

Is Kratom Dangerous?

District 9 Medical Examiner District 9 (Orlando) reported three (3) deaths where kratom was present but was not found to be the cause of death. One (1) of these deaths was found to be due to natural causes related to heart disease, and Mitragynine, caffeine, caffeine metabolite, and alprazolam were also present. Both of the other District 9 deaths were determined to be accidental with one (1) involving acute heroin and cocaine toxicity and the other involved intoxication by acetyl fentanyl.

This article was last updated on November 2, 2020.