What is Mitragyna Speciosa and Its Legality in Hawaii

Aug 7, 2019 2:50 PM ET

Mitragyna speciosa, also known as kratom, is a plant which has gained immense limelight in the U.S. over the past few years. If you are also living somewhere in the U.S., then it is hard that you have missed hearing about kratom. In the news, on public forums, somewhere online, you will surely have come across the name of kratom. Mitragyna speciosa is a plant grown in South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. But its popularity is not because it is some kind of magical plant, but because of its relaxing effects. More and more people are seeking it on local drug stores or online stores like Kratom Crazy, and this mania doesn’t seem to stop yet.

But amidst this mania, health, medicine and drug departments of the U.S. are showing concerns over its legality and free availability.

The legality of Mitragyna speciosa:

DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) put it in Schedule 1 Category in 2016. Being part of this category means that the substance has no medical value and have high abuse potential. However, DEA had to withdraw its decision in the same year due to a huge public outcry from proponents of this plant. But despite the withdrawal of decision, it is still on the watch list of DEA and FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

In fact, the FDA issued an alert in January 2016 regarding use of this plant, which indicated its toxic impact on body system due to its health risks. Various health issues were associated with kratom in this report, including sleeplessness, aggression, depression, agitation, hallucinations, constipation, tremor, nervousness, nausea, delusions, skin hyperpigmentation, etc.

Besides health issues, FDA has also shown its concerns on the high abuse potential of kratom. The main reason for this concern is because it has two active compounds, mitragynine and hydroxymitragynine, which are opioid-receptor agonists. They bind to and trigger µ-opioid receptors, like high abuse drugs like morphine, causing an opioid-like effect.

Despite all the concerns of the FDA, many proponents of this drug have stated that instead of causing addiction, kratom has actually helped them to overcome addiction from other drugs.

Legality in Hawaii:

Though Mitragyna speciosa is legal in many U.S. states, six U.S. states have called it as a controlled substance. It means that it is illegal to use, possess, sell, and grow kratom. Besides these six states, a few cities in other legal states have also banned the usage and selling of kratom. Those six states which have totally banned this plant include Alabama, Indiana, Rhode Island, Arkansas, Vermont and Wisconsin. While New Hampshire has an age limit of 18 above and Tennessee has an age limit of 21 above for the usage and possession of kratom.

It means that usage, possession, selling and growing of Marijuana is not banned in any part of Hawaii yet. Kratom has been used and sold in Hawaii for many years, over more than a decade, and people of Hawaii has been using it in pills, powder and liquid form. And till date, they can continue doing it freely because it is legal and they are free to do it in the eye of law and state’s authority.

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