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Is Kratom Legal in California? (How to Stay Out of Trouble)

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is kratom legal in california

Kratom’s legal status in the US sure is confusing at times! If you live in California and are interested in kratom, you may have heard conflicting statements on whether kratom is legal or not. I’m here to clear up all that legal jargon and put your mind at rest. 

Simply put, kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is legal in the state of California, except in San Diego and Oceanside. While most of the 40 million or so residents in California can legally purchase, carry, and consume kratom, the 1.6 million living in these cities cannot.

How has this complex situation emerged, and could the laws change in the future? Join me as I take a deep dive into California’s kratom laws. 

Kratom Legality in California

California is like many states with contrasting laws creating an uncertain legal environment. Kratom remains legal at the federal level, but various states, counties, and cities across the country take a different view. This is pretty annoying, and the lack of legal clarity scares many off from buying a product that could transform their mental or physical health.

Still, it’s not all bad. California is one of 44 states where kratom is legal, and that’s a pretty big deal given nearly 40 million people live in Cali!

But it’s a laughable situation really. San Diego residents can be charged for buying kratom, but head a few miles down the road and you’ll find it in stores. It’s no wonder people get confused, and I imagine plenty of kratom users have made innocent mistake.

Kratom County Bans in Cali

Before I start on the specifics of the kratom laws in the cities of San Diego and Oceanside, I must stress that this bizarre situation is not a problem specific to California. Sarasota County in Florida is a great example of a jurisdiction where kratom is prohibited in an otherwise legal state. That several lower legislative bodies around the U.S. have taken a stance on kratom shows the plant is hot on the legal agenda.

Thankfully, kratom is not illegal in any Californian city. However, San Diego County supervisors – home to 3.3 million U.S. residents – were contemplating a ban in early 2020. Some were looking to declare kratom a public nuisance, but users came to the rescue, talking up kratom’s benefits. This incident indicates kratom’s legal status is uncertain, and that advocates will have to keep fighting for kratom rights in the years to come.

So why exactly is kratom banned in San Diego and Oceanside? Here’s what they have to say.

San Diego

America’s Finest City banned kratom in June 2016. The ban came as part of a sweeping ordinance that also prohibited the “manufacturing, sale, distribution and possession of spice, bath salts, and other synthetic and psychoactive drugs.”

The ordinance mostly made sense. In recent years, an array of dangerous new drugs have popped up that got around existing laws. Frustratingly, kratom got caught up in it, and unfairly so – and I’m not just saying that because I love kratom!

Kratom is a natural substance. Most of the drugs San Diego was trying to ban are cooked up in laboratories. Lawmakers simply took advantage of this all-encompassing law to restrict the freedoms of San Diegans. I think they knew that a standard attempt to ban kratom would have been unsuccessful.

Oceanside

Same story, different city, and just as infuriating! The wording in Oceanside’s Code of Ordinances once again smacks of ignorance towards kratom and a cheap shot to ban it. Kratom is listed as one of 94 “novel psychoactive substances” banned in the city. True, it’s psychoactive, but novel? That’s not just misleading, but outright false. Kratom has been around for thousands of years.

The Code does accurately state that kratom is a drug of concern for the Drug Enforcement Administration. But the DEA’s efforts to ban kratom in 2016 were ultimately unsuccessful. And since when was it acceptable to ban something that is only “of concern”?

For a substance that so many have found life-changing, it’s a joke that kratom was banned in such a way. The ordinances were extremely made no mention of kratom’s therapeutic potential. In total contrast, most of the other drugs that were banned are pretty much unknown. If lawmakers in these cities wanted to ban kratom, they should have had the guts to fight a fair fight.

History of Kratom Legality in California

Until 2016, kratom was legal throughout California. Kratom grows in Southeast Asia, and hardly any Americans knew about it until a few years ago. But thanks to the internet, we live in a truly global world now. Cultivators in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and other parts of Southeast Asia now ship kratom to Americans on a massive scale. In just a couple of decades, kratom has gone from being a regional speciality to a worldwide phenomenon.

Lawmakers in California and beyond started taking an interest in kratom when reports emerged of severe illness and death. A sharp uptick in kratom-related cases at Poison Control centers across the U.S. also occurred in the 2010s. Since kratom is scientifically unproven and has severe side effects (even though they are rare), it’s no surprise the DEA took an interest.

However, that DEA interest has sparked a chain reaction, as apparent in San Diego and Oceanside. Kratom’s future became very uncertain in 2016, although the DEA’s failure to ban it has eased the pressure somewhat. Given that kratom has only become more popular, that nowhere else in California has banned kratom in the past five years is a success.

Where Can I Buy Kratom in California?

Because California state doesn’t impose any restrictions on kratom, it’s widely available in stores. The big stores like Walmart and Target shy away from kratom products, as do Walgreens, CVS, and other nationwide pharmacies. The big guys like certainty, and don’t want to risk investing in large amounts of kratom stock in case the federal law changes.

But the absence of the huge grocery stores gives the smaller vendors a chance to cash in. Smoke shops and gas stations sell kratom, and you may even find specialized kratom stores in the cities (just not San Diego or Oceanside!).

However, your best bet for buying kratom in California is an online vendor such as Kratom Krush. Physical stores have higher costs – rent, employees, bills – and these inevitably end up on the customer. Online vendors don’t have these overheads, can sell products much cheaper, and even offer free shipping if you buy enough!

Kratom Krush only stocks third-party tested products, ensuring both quality and safety. These reports are freely accessible on their site and confirm their products are free from heavy metals and pesticides. Transparency is vital in the unregulated kratom market!

4 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About California’s Kratom Laws

Can I take kratom from California to states and cities where kratom is banned?

No. The cops don’t care where you have bought your kratom. They are only interested in the law in that location. If you are caught with kratom in a banned state, city, or county, you will be charged. Moreover, since kratom is not medically approved for any conditions, there’s no chance you’ll get away with claiming a therapeutic exemption. It is just not worth the risk.

Can I fly with kratom? 

Yes, providing you are flying to another legal jurisdiction. Airports are federal property, so it’s perfectly fine to carry a legal substance like kratom. If you do fly with kratom, don’t try concealing it or playing any tricks. You aren’t committing a crime, but you may needlessly arouse suspicion and end up in an awkward situation. Not everybody knows what kratom is, and I’m sure you would rather avoid a tense conversation with a confused security guy.

Will California ever ban kratom? 

It’s hard to say. The Golden State is known for its progressive attitude with promising new treatments – California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996. But the recent crackdown on smoking and the impending new restrictive laws on e-cigarette vaping suggests Cali lawmakers aren’t all about personal freedom.

Much will depend on what the science says, and with millions now using kratom, a wave of research should be coming over the next few years. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had its sights on kratom back in 2016. But a vociferous rebellion from kratom users snuffed out efforts to put kratom in the most restrictive Schedule 1 category, alongside heroin. The DEA has not attempted to ban kratom since.

If the federal government ever moves to ban kratom, states will find it difficult to keep kratom legal, even if they want to. You can be sure the federal authorities would enforce a strict crackdown in such a scenario. Hopefully, it will never come to that!

How can I help keep kratom legal?

Great question and I’m pleased to hear you want to join the fight to protect the rights of kratom users in California and across the nation. Staying up to date with kratom news is a good place to start. If you use and benefit from kratom, make sure you tell others and perhaps share your story on social media.

On several occasions, lawmakers have asked kratom users to get in touch with their thoughts on kratom. You must make the case for kratom if this ever happens in your area, as this usually only happens when legislators are mulling over a ban. The kratom community is strong and often wins these battles, but there will probably be more to come. The American Kratom Association is always hot on this and effective at mobilizing supporters.

Final thoughts 

If you had any doubts about kratom’s legal status in California, I hope this post has cleared them up. The law isn’t too complicated, but the penalties could be quite severe if you mess up. Hopefully, the tide will turn when more research is available, and those cities that have restricted kratom from their citizens will be forced into a u-turn. We can hope!

For most Californians, things are great. But the legal situation in Oceanside and San Diego really is irritating. If kratom was banned fair and square, it would be a bitter pill to swallow, but at least there would be no complaints. These city ordinances really have screwed more than 1.5 million potential kratom users over.

Anyway, if kratom is legal where you are, don’t forget to head over to Kratom Krush and explore their premium range of kratom powder and capsules. Kratom Krush products are top tier, they have an enormous collection, and their low prices are unmatched.

And if you’re stuck in San Diego or Oceanside, maybe it’s time to move! I’m just kidding.

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