Kratom has been consumed for centuries in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand to treat a variety of ailments and conditions. Some of the ailments and conditions that traditional Indonesians, Malaysians, Vietnamese, and Thais have used Kratom powder to treat include chronic/ acute pain, low mood, depression, low energy levels, low motivation, and low libido.
The rest of the world discovered Kratom in the last few years. There is very little information online about the powder in the Western world before 2016. However, Kratom is now all the rage in the US, Canada, and the UK. Many people are attributing the surging popularity of the substance in the western world to the ability of the natural remedy to effectively alleviate pain.
Studies have now been done on the effectiveness of the substance to cure various ailments and conditions. Most studies have reported very positive results; the chemicals present in pure Kratom powders can interact with components of your nervous system to reduce pain and to boost your mood. Studies have also shown that substance strains can alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms. These findings have further increased the popularity of Kratom in the Western World.
The findings have also made people from the rest of the world to become interested in the natural remedy. Not to be left behind, quite a number of South Africans have already bought and continue buying Kratom. However, many more South Africans are interested in buying the product but they can’t because they think it is illegal.
In this article, we tell you all you need to know about the legal status of this natural remedy in South Africa, and why you do not need to worry about the law if you buy it or you want to buy it.
Why do people think that the drug is illegal?
Most people think that Kratom is illegal because there are some controversies surrounding it in the US. Some people think it is banned in the US and in many other countries around the world. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Kratom is legal across the United States except for a few states. Worldwide, only a handful of states such as Thailand have banned it.
In the US, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) has not classified it as an illegal substance but has put it on its watch list. The reason for this is that it can cause dependency (when taken frequently) and that it can also cause some side effects. However, the key point here is that it is not banned by the Agency.
Does that mean it is an accepted medicine? No, it doesn’t. The agency responsible for approving medicines and foods to be sold as medicine and food in the US is the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). No drug containing the substance has yet been approved. This makes it illegal to sell it as a drug or a food. However, it doesn’t criminalize the buying or selling of Kratom as anything else. Therefore, vendors are free to sell it as long as they don’t claim it can treat anything. As you can see, the substance is not illegal in the US.
The actual legal situation in South Africa
The situation in South Africa is kind of the same as that in the US. People are fearful of buying Kratom because they think it is illegal but it is not.
The FDA equivalent in SA is SAHPRA (South African Health Products Regulatory Authority). This regulatory authority is given powers by the Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1965 to govern the manufacture, sale, and advertising of health products. This means that for Kratom medicines to be legal, they have to be approved by SAHPRA. As of now, we are not aware of any approved medicines containing the substance. Nevertheless, just as the situation is in the US, people can sell the product as long as they do not claim that they can heal or treat. So you can buy can buy Kratom from any vendor who sells it locally or internationally without running into trouble with SAHPRA.
But that was not just enough for us. We decided to also look at the South African Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act of 1992 to see if we could find Kratom there or its alkaloids (mitragynine or 7-hydroxymitragynine). Our research revealed some good news; the substance is not listed as a scheduled substance in the Act. This means to us that it is not illegal .
You can therefore freely import it and do with it what you want as long as you do not market it to others as medicine because that will be an offence under the previously mentioned Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1965.
Conclusion and recommendation
Kratom is not illegal. The Drug and Drug Trafficking Act of 1992 does not criminalize it. However, there is a problem with some physical and online stores that sell the powder as a medicine in the country because no medicine with Kratom has yet been approved by SAHPRA.
Nevertheless, consumable Kratom powder can still be legally sold in the country for any other reason as long as it is not treatment.
Think of the legal situation of Kratom in South Africa as that of any other herbal remedy in the country. There are so many herbal stores selling products that are not approved as medicine and they are not disturbed by the police. Kratom is also a herbal product but it is much better because research has been done into it and it has been proven to be actually effective in treating various conditions and ailments. The only thing that you will need to be keen on is the labeling/ advertisement. Otherwise, you are free to buy as much Kratom as you want, from any place you want.
P.S.: This article is written for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal or medical advice.