4 months ago

History of kratom legality in Arkansas

Arkansas banned kratom even before the FDA temporarily banned it in 2016. Before it became illegal in Arkansas, citizens of the state had the freedom to consume kratom to help treat chronic pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and drug dependency.

Kratom became the target of legislation in 2015, when one doctor (Dr. Thomas Atkinson, from the Springdale Treatment Center) wrote a letter to the Arkansas Department of Health telling them that patients at the addiction center where he worked had used kratom before, and that the plant acted similar to opioid agonists.

Dr. Atkinson wanted to make it known that he believed that people in Arkansas shouldn’t be able to buy kratom at local stores.

After receiving the letter, Arkansas’s health department decided to add mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, two of kratom’s alkaloids, to the list of schedule I narcotics on the state’s List of Controlled Substances under Opium Derivatives.

A Law Based on Misconception

Although alkaloids in kratom bond to the brain’s opioid receptors, kratom itself is neither an opioid nor an opiate in the medical definition. Unfortunately, this confusion is rampant. Even in 2019, the commissioner of the FDA, Scott Gottlieb, MD, tweeted about kratom, calling it “an opioid” that is “inherently addictive.” 

It’s alarming that leaders in the FDA and the Arkansas Department of Health make judgements with legal consequences when they don’t even know enough about kratom to differentiate it from opiates. 

Not only is kratom not a derivative of opium, “strong evidence demonstrates that the effects of kratom are actually quite different from those of classic opioids.” 

It’s an unfortunately common trend in the states that have banned kratom that often, the laws on kratom place it in a scientifically incorrect category (Alabama, for example, lists kratom under its list of outlawed synthetic substances, despite the fact that kratom is completely natural.

Legal Consequences of Kratom in Arkansas

In Arkansas, if you buy, sell, or own kratom in the state you can face a penalty of up to 20 years in jail and a fine of $15,000. People driving through Arkansas from states where kratom is legal can end up facing the same charges as if they were selling heroin. So if you’re driving from Oklahoma or Mississippi, make sure to leave your kratom at home when travelling through Arkansas.

Further penalties may also be faced if the police find more than 2 grams of kratom in your possession if you’re within 1000 feet of certain facilities, such as schools, parks, churches, bus stops, public housing, day-care centers, and many other buildings considered of importance. You could face up to 30 years of imprisonment in these situations.

Help Make Kratom Legal in Arkansas

Kratom is important to many people who have suffered from prescription opioid addictions or other drug addictions, as it helps them wean off from those substances. There are no proven causes of death from kratom, and studies show that opioids are over 1000 times more likely to cause death from overdose than kratom. 

The kratom ban in Arkansas is depriving many people from the freedom to choose an herbal alternative to the opiates. To become a kratom advocate and push for a reverse on the ban in Arkansas, join the Arkansas AKA for Kratom Ffacebook group, and check out the American Kratom Association’s form for advocating kratom in your congressional district.

Reach out to your local and state representatives to voice your thoughts on kratom. Find out how to contact them at

  • Little Rock
  • Fayetteville
  • Fort Smith
  • Springdale
  • Jonesboro
  • Rogers
  • Conway
  • North Little Rock
  • Bentonville
  • Jacksonville