Mitragyna speciosa Kratom is illegal in many South-East Asian countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma) and Vietnam (though the specificities of the law is unclear).
Kratom use is, however still quite common in these countries, especially in rural areas, even though these countries often impose severe penalties (up to death in certain cases) for use or possession.
Outside South-East Asia, Mitragyna speciosa Kratom remains uncontrolled / legal in most of the world, including the United States and most European countries. Yet Kratom was also recently made illegal in Australia and Finland.
Some of the aggressive marketing techniques used by a few vendors in the past were also quite detrimental to the legal status of Kratom, with such vendors making no attempts to educate their customers or even spreading downright disinformation describing Kratom as “better than” cannabis or opium, or as a legal substitute, and often forgetting words of caution and indications on how to use Kratom responsibly.
It is unfortunately quite likely that more countries will eventually consider a ban of Mitragyna speciosa Kratom or of its active chemicals in the future.
In the U.S.A. for instance, the Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A) has been aware of Kratom use for some time. In July 2005, the D.E.A.'s Microgram newsletter included a section from the N.D.I.C.'s Narcotics Digest Weekly which was entitled "Herbal Drug Update: Kratom".
This article described Kratom as widely available through internet vendors and "head shops," although no evidence for this was cited. The article also includes a brief one paragraph summary of Kratom's effects and modes of use, then states: "N.D.I.C. has not yet received law enforcement reports regarding Kratom abuse in the United States." It also concludes: "One potential user population for Kratom is opiate addicts who may attempt to self-treat if they do not have access to methadone programs or if they are reluctant to seek professional treatment. Some medical researchers have speculated that Kratom may be useful as a substitute for methadone in treating opiate dependency, although more research is needed."
The D.E.A. has also added Mitragyna speciosa Kratom to their list of "Drugs and Chemicals of Concern." Yet this list, for now, does not appear to indicate anything other than that the D.E.A. has noticed the existence and use of a substance, and has come to believe that Kratom use should be monitored or assessed for potential scheduling or not.
In the D.E.A.’s terms: ”The substances listed represent chemicals that are being considered for possible evaluation or scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA) and its subsequent amendments".
Laws can change fast, so one should first check up on current legal status in one’s country before planning to buy or use Mitragyna speciosa Kratom.