Frankie Wallace is a freelance journalist with an interest in aviation news and politics. Wallace graduated from the University of Montana’s Journalism School and currently resides in Boise, Idaho. The views expressed in this article are solely his.
Kratom is an herbal supplement that many advocates say helps with pain, anxiety, and even depression. However, lawmakers in some states disagree, saying that kratom has dangerous side effects. Some states have banned the possession of kratom, while others are considering legislation about the herb. With no federal law for guidance, many travelers are uncertain about whether or not they could be punished for flying with kratom in the United States.
What Is Kratom?
For consumers, kratom often comes in the form of powder or capsules that are derived from the mitragyna speciosa, which grows in countries in Southeast Asia. The kratom plantthrives in countries that are hot, humid, and experience a lot of sunlight throughout the year, so most the kratom in circulation comes from countries like Indonesia, where it is grown and processed.
Once a kratom leaf reaches the desired level of maturity, it is picked and then dried in the intense sunlight. At this point, the kratom is essentially ready for consumption. However, for cosmetic reasons, makers will typically grind the kratom leaves up into a fine powder, which the user can measure out themselves or take in the form of kratom capsules.
Advocates for kratom argue that the plant has beneficial effects for many users. They say that the benefits of kratom include:
- Pain relief for those who suffer from chronic pain.
- An increased level of focus for people who are easily distracted.
- A boost in energy.
- A more positive attitude in general.
Essentially, kratom defenders argue that it can improve the lives of many people who are in pain, stressed, or otherwise unable to live their fullest life.
However, in spite of these arguments, many government officials would like to see the herb banned. Government agencies that support this ban have argued that there is no conclusive research about kratom’s beneficial effects. They say that, like some other herbal supplements bought online, kratom can actually be dangerous to users who aren’t fully aware of proper usage and handling of the herb. Other agencies — including the DEA — have said that they are awaiting further study on kratom before coming to a decision.
Is Kratom Legal in the United States?
Right now, there is no federal ban on kratom. Federal bans on drugs come through the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in conjunction with other relevant agencies. In order for a drug like kratom to be completely banned in the United States, it has to be assigned Schedule I status according to the Controlled Substances Act. Unlike drugs in the other Schedules, Schedule I drugs have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, according to the DEA. These drugs may not be used under any circumstances for any reasons. Well-known Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD.
What States Have Banned Kratom?
In addition to the DEA, states have local authority over which drugs are legal in their jurisdictions. The following states have banned the possession and use of kratom:
- Rhode Island
So Can You Fly With Kratom?
Since there is no federal ban on kratom, it is legal to fly with it in the United States. However, if you are carrying kratom into a state where it is illegal and it is found, then you could face legal action. Keep in mind that there are some city-level bans on kratom (such as in Denver) and remember that kratom-related laws are constantly changing. Before you travel anywhere with kratom, make sure to check with officials in that state to make sure that kratom is legal.
Since kratom is a relatively new substances to the United States, TSA officials are not likely to be familiar with it. They may try to stop you if they cannot identify the kratom and become suspicious, but unless they can prove that it is another substance which is illegal, then they have no case to detain you.
Featured image from We3Fly