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California is the third largest US state by land area. It covers most of the Pacific West Coast and is also the most populated state with over 39.5 million people. It is also the state where three of the 10 most populated cities in the US are located. They are Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose.
California retains a rather free attitude when it comes to herbal medicines. As a result, it was the first state within the United States to legalize the use of medical cannabis in 1996. In 2016, it decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana and, two years later, made legal its sales and production.
The legal situation with kratom is a little different. Let’s look into the details to answer your question.
Is Kratom Legal in California?
Kratom is legal in the state of California except for the city of San Diego. In June 2016, the San Diego City Council made kratom illegal within the city limits. The ban does not apply to San Diego Country, yet it has considered a kratom ban as well.
The legal status of kratom leaves in the United States has been a gray area for several years.
In August 2016, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced its intent to outlaw kratom on a federal level. This happened after the Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended it.
Around the same time, various US states and locations banned kratom, too.
Despite its initial announcement, the DEA withdrew its intent several months later. Only more than a year later, it became known in the news why that happened.
The HHS revoked its recommendation to schedule kratom. That was due to the lack of proof of its risks. Yet, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) kept this from the public.
San Diego Kratom Ban
On June 14, 2016, the San Diego City authorities approved a new ordinance in regard to the sales, possession, and distribution of various substances. One of them was kratom. Along with it, the San Diego City Council also banned a number of synthetic and psychoactive drugs. They listed substances such as spice (synthetic cannabinoids) and bath salts (synthetic cathinones).
The reason behind the ban was concerns about the safety of buying kratom. The San Diego media outlets pointed out that, over 4 years, there were 100 calls to poison centers across California mentioning kratom.
In addition to that, medical examiners were able to find kratom in the death reports of 11 people. Only of the fatalities didn’t state the presence of addictive drugs. Yet, the media and authorities focused on kratom rather than the drugs.
Kratom supporters, including a lawyer and biochemist, pointed out that these are exaggerated claims with no solid proof.
Schedule I substances are those with high abuse potential and no medicinal use. Moreover, there are no clinical studies that report any harmful effects of exposure to kratom.
Sadly, the authorities decided otherwise.
The kratom ban in San Diego City labels kratom as a synthetic and psychoactive drug rather than a herb. This is inaccurate as pure kratom is a 100% raw herbal substance. Kratom is scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, a tree that originates from Southeast Asia and belongs to the coffee family of plants. It grows freely in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other neighboring countries.
Meanwhile, all the other substances included in the ban are either synthetic or contain synthetic components. As a result, this ban also outlaws natural kratom leaf that’s lab-tested, unadulterated, and free of contaminants.
Potential Kratom Ban in San Diego County
However, no bills to ban Mitragyna speciosa have been filed.
Apart from the ban in San Diego, no other actions to prohibit kratom have taken place in the state. Therefore, kratom is legal in the rest of California state.
Can You Sell or Possess Kratom in San Diego?
Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the two primary alkaloids in Mitragyna speciosa, are scheduled in San Diego. The local city government classifies kratom as a Novel Psychoactive Drug.
Possessing a prohibited substance is considered a misdemeanor. It can lead to penalties such as a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 1 year of imprisonment. Purchasing or possessing kratom with an intent to sell it can lead to heftier fines.
The American Kratom Association and Kratom Regulations
While kratom remains legal in California, there are no laws that would ensure the purity of kratom products. Moreover, the FDA has expressed no intent to pass any regulations.
A non-profit organization called the American Kratom Association (AKA) is on a mission to change that. It has two initiatives to accomplish that – the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) program and the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA).
The KCPA is legislation that intends to regulate kratom sales, manufacturing, and distribution. It can provide many benefits to kratom buyers. It can help keep pure kratom legal and reduce the number of bad players selling impure kratom. The KCPA includes the following:
- Prohibition to sell contaminated or adulterated kratom products that can have a negative effect on buyer health,
- Proper labeling of kratom powder and other products,
- Age restrictions, prohibiting minors from accessing kratom,
- Penalties for breaking the law.
Several states across the country have already enacted it. While many want to enact the KCPA in California, no action has currently taken place.
If you’d like to support the AKA and its mission, you can donate to the organization. You can also ask AKA representatives how you can help.
Where to Buy Kratom in California?
Since kratom is legal in the state of California, various smoke shops, as well as botanical stores, offer kratom for purchase. However, due to the lack of kratom laws, there are many low-quality, contaminated, and adulterated products on the market.
The safest and most versatile way is to buy kratom online from trusted vendors. Shopping online also can help you score more affordable and fresher kratom.
Doing so wisely will ensure that users who live in California get access to kratom that is clean, pure, and lab tested. Moreover, online merchants often do not need to cover overhead and middleman costs, making kratom powder more affordable, too.
It’s important to read through vendor reviews, lab testing policies, and values to ensure you only invest in reputable vendors.
For more information on kratom legality in the United States and the latest kratom legality map, you can view this post on our blog.