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Is Kratom Legal In California?

Is kratom legal in California

California has been known to take a very liberal stance when it comes to kratom. Legislators were the first here to make medical cannabis legal, even if they weren’t the first to make it recreationally legal.

To understand the kratom laws in California though, there’s a little more behind the story than the stereotypes.  There are some people who are taking a very active stance on the subject of kratom, and it’s ultimately causing some confusion in the state.

We’ll look at how kratom laws in California have impacted its citizens, where you’re allowed to use it, and which organizations are influencing the controversial future of the plant. If you’re looking for kratom powder in California, read more to understand the rules before you make your next move.

Classification of Kratom in California

Kratom is not currently classified in California except in the city of San Diego. In the San Diego legislation (drafted in 2016), the bill appears to list kratom as a federal Schedule 1 drug. However, it should be noted that kratom is federally legal as of this writing, even though there was a brief period in 2016 where it was banned.

Current California Kratom Legislation

There are no statewide laws for kratom in California. This means that it’s legal for citizens to purchase and own the plant. Qualified commercial parties are allowed to make, sell, and distribute their products as well.

It’s  likely that if law enforcement suspects any type of abuse or misuse of kratom in California, officials will judge each case on an individual basis.

As with most of the country, the regulation for the production of kratom is very lax. Those buying kratom in California should look for reputable parties that test their products to ensure they are free from contaminants. Feel free to check out our own lab results to compare against other products.

Is Kratom Banned in Any Cities in California?

Is kratom illegal in California? In one part of the state, the answer is yes. San Diego is the only city in California where it is illegal to own, buy, make, sell, or distribute kratom. This law applies to people within the city limits and does not extend to San Diego county.

The article banning kratom  is listed under the San Diego Municipal Code Chapter 5 under the Public Safety, Morals, and Welfare Chapter. Under Division 33 of ordinance 20657, you’ll find the two most common alkaloids of kratom (7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine) listed along with a number of other substances. The article was passed in 2016.

So while the San Diego municipal code doesn’t technically refer to kratom, the outlawing of the alkaloids amounts to a total ban on the plant.

The law itself is unclear though, especially given that the language seems to indicate that kratom as a federally banned drug (which it is not). It also would suggest that kratom is a synthetic substance even though it’s an all-natural remedy. The consequences of using kratom in the city limits are also unclear. Based on evidence gathered from other sources though, it’s likely that possession will be tried as a misdemeanor.

Considering the timing, it’s likely that San Diego was responding to the DEA’s banning of kratom in 2016. Both laws were passed around the same time, although the DEA did retract its classification to make the plant federally legal again.

Buying and Shipping Kratom in California

If you’re buying kratom in California (anywhere besides San Diego that is), it should be relatively easy to do. However, it should be noted that there are anecdotal stories of shipments of kratom have caused confusion in distribution centers, especially in cities or states that have officially banned the plant.

For example, one person claimed that their shipment was stopped and held in Ontario, CA (a city where kratom is legal). Other people have claimed that  if their package had to go through a state where kratom was illegal, their package was held.

If organizations like UPS, USPS, or FedEx have reason to suspect a package, they’re supposed to follow federal laws to make their final decision. However, this process may take several weeks (or longer) to determine.

Kratom Advocacy Groups in California

Advocacy efforts in California haven’t made a lot of headlines, likely because the general state has relaxed attitudes toward herbal products. However, the American Kratom Association (AKA) has been monitoring the legislation in San Diego and keeping an ear and eye out for other cities to follow suit.

This group is largely concerned that the FDA is spreading only one side of the story, a side that may not necessarily even be rooted in fact. The AKA has heard the stories of people in California benefitting from kratom, and the group is determined to help legislators understand what kratom is and what it can be.

To that end, the group encourages residents to get involved in the state by following the laws, reaching out to state legislators, donating to advocacy campaigns, and attempting to educate all people about how kratom affects the human body. They hope to influence California kratom legality so everyone in the state has an option besides addictive pharmaceuticals.


For more information on kratom laws across the country, check out our Kratom Legality Map.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Adminstration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


Todd A. Underwood


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