Kratom’s legal status in Hawaii has been controversial and uncertain over the past few years. While kratom is currently legal in the Aloha State, there have been efforts to ban it.
The Current Legal Status of Kratom in Hawaii
As of January 2024, kratom is legal in Hawaii for adults over the age of 18. There are no state laws prohibiting the possession, use, or sale of kratom.
Kratom is regulated as a dietary supplement under Hawaii state law. This means it cannot be sold for human consumption, but only as an herbal product.
The Controversy Around Kratom in Hawaii
In recent years, there have been efforts to make kratom illegal in Hawaii.
In 2019, multiple bills were introduced in the state legislature to criminalize kratom possession and sales. However, none of these proposed bans were passed into law.
Opponents argued that kratom is dangerous and has a high potential for abuse. Supporters countered that kratom offers many benefits and, for many, is safer than prescription pain medications.
Why Kratom Remains Legal in Hawaii
Kratom avoided a statewide ban for several key reasons:
- Lack of FDA approval: The FDA has not definitively ruled whether kratom is safe for human consumption or should be a controlled substance. With no federal guidance, Hawaii opted not to schedule kratom either.
- Public opposition: Many kratom users, advocates, and industry groups vocally opposed the proposed kratom bans in Hawaii. They argued it would harm public health by eliminating access to an herbal supplement.
- Insufficient evidence of harm – Legislators felt there was not enough concrete evidence that kratom poses a significant risk to public health and safety in Hawaii specifically.
- Regulation as a dietary supplement – Hawaii’s determination that kratom should be regulated as a supplement rather than a drug sidestepped the need to impose a ban.
The Legality of Kratom Elsewhere in the United States
Kratom’s legal status differs across the 50 states. Here’s a quick overview:
- Fully legal in 45 states
- Banned in 6 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin)
- Partial or local bans in a few jurisdictions
Is Kratom Use Popular in Hawaii?
Kratom has developed a following among some Hawaii residents who use it for various purposes.
Exact data is lacking, but the American Kratom Association estimates between 1 million to 5 million kratom users nationwide.
Anecdotal reports suggest kratom is commonly used in Hawaii for:
- Pain relief
- Managing opioid withdrawal
- Reducing anxiety or depression
- Increased energy and focus
Kratom’s legal status enables access for those seeking an alternative to other substances.
What Does Kratom’s Future Look Like in Hawaii?
The future legal status of kratom in Hawaii remains uncertain. Much depends on whether the federal government takes any action to regulate or ban kratom.
Barring a federal kratom ban, Hawaii is unlikely to schedule it given the past failed legislative efforts. But local municipalities could still impose bans, as some counties have done in other states.
Kratom advocates view Hawaii’s environment as generally favorable given past opposition to criminalizing this herb. But the controversy is likely to continue between those for and against kratom.
Conclusion: Kratom Currently Legal but Controversial in Hawaii
- Kratom is currently legal for those over 18 in Hawaii. No state law prohibits possession, usage, or sales.
- Multiple attempts to ban kratom statewide have fallen short amidst public opposition and lack of sufficient evidence of harm.
- Kratom’s future in Hawaii remains uncertain due to conflicting views on its risks vs. benefits. For now it occupies a legal but controversial status.
- While banned in a handful of states, kratom remains widely accessible across much of the U.S., including Hawaii.
- Hawaii’s regulators are taking a “wait and see” approach, avoiding a ban absent federal action but allowing local restrictions.
So while kratom’s legal status in Hawaii is in limbo, it can currently be purchased and used by adults within the parameters of state law. But its long-term availability remains subject to ongoing controversy and debate among policymakers.