Kratom comes from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree, which is native to Southeast Asia. The leaves have been used for medicinal and recreational purposes for hundreds of years.
Traditionally, kratom leaves were chewed or brewed into tea to relieve pain, boost energy, and ease opioid withdrawal. The plant contains compounds that interact with opioid receptors in the brain.
Kratom is currently legal at the federal level in the U.S. However, there has been a lot of debate around its safety and potential for abuse.
Kratom Banned in Massachusetts
The first state to classify kratom as a restricted substance and outlaw its sale was Massachusetts in 2016. The contentious prohibition took effect on January 1, 2022.
Previously, kratom was legal to buy and sell to anyone over the age of 18 in Massachusetts.
So what changed? Authorities and state representatives started to worry about possible safety risks and an increase in overdoses involving kratom combined with other substances.
Advocates of kratom, however, asserted that it is safer than prescription medicines and has valid medical applications. Businesses and kratom enthusiasts reacted negatively to the prohibition.
The Ongoing Debate Over Kratom’s Risks and Benefits
Opioids may be safer if this herb is used instead, according to organizations like the American Kratom Association. Supporters of kratom claim that it can lessen the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and help manage chronic pain.
But federal health organizations like the FDA caution that kratom functions in the brain similarly to an opioid. Excessive dosages may cause mortality, liver damage, decreased breathing, and seizures.
Between 2011 to 2017, fifteen deaths were associated with kratom exposure in the United States. However, many involved mixing kratom with other substances.
So the true risks of kratom alone are still being studied. To fully comprehend the possible advantages and disadvantages of this plant, more research is required.
How Other New England States Regulate Kratom
Let’s quickly look at how neighboring New England states regulate kratom:
- Maine – Legal for adults 18 and older
- New Hampshire: Legal for 18+
- Vermont: Legal for 18+
- Rhode Island: Legal for 18+
- Connecticut: Banned
Clearly, Massachusetts has taken one of the strictest stances on kratom in the region. Only Connecticut also fully prohibits the sale and use of this herbal product.
Meanwhile, limited federal regulation allows kratom to remain legal in most U.S. states. But some cities and counties have imposed local bans.
Legal Status of Kratom in Massachusetts
Despite the statewide ban, there are some exceptions that still legally allow access to kratom in Massachusetts.
Kratom sales are allowed for those over 21 under these circumstances:
- Distributed by licensed alcohol retailers as an herbal remedy
- Sold by licensed pharmacists or wholesalers
- Used for research purposes
So while recreational kratom use is prohibited, there are some narrow permissible uses remaining. Of course, the rules are still quite strict compared to most other states.
Penalties for Illegal Possession and Sale
Under the statewide ban, kratom is categorized as a Schedule I controlled substance. This puts it in the same legal class as drugs like heroin and LSD.
If you are caught with 40 grams or more of kratom leaf powder, you could face 1–10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Selling any quantity of kratom could mean up to 3.5 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $25,000. Exceptions apply for approved alcohol retailers and pharmacies.
Clearly, the penalties for illegal kratom transactions are quite severe. Tread carefully and know the latest laws if you plan to buy, sell, or use this substance in Massachusetts.
Conclusion: Kratom’s Uncertain Future
So in summary, kratom occupies a legal gray area. The regulations around it are still evolving, especially on a state-by-state basis.
While kratom shows some promise medically, there are still many unknowns. More clinical research is required to assess its benefits, risks, and appropriate uses.
For now, Massachusetts has implemented one of the strictest statewide bans. Yet the door remains open to revisiting this polarizing policy debate in the future.
Stay vigilant and follow all local laws if you plan to obtain or use kratom products. With more education and scientific study, hopefully we can find the right balance in regulating this unique botanical substance.