Is Kratom Legal in North Carolina? [2023 Update]

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Feb 6, 2023

With kratom law seemingly different in every state, it is no wonder that people get confused over whether it is legal in their area. Even so, that does not mean you can ignore the situation. So, is kratom legal in North Carolina?

As of 2023, kratom is legal in North Carolina for persons aged 18 and over! The Tar Heel State does not limit kratom access in any other way. However, this also means that North Carolina is without the regulation offered by the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA).

Has the state explored banning kratom before? Will the substance stay legal in North Carolina? I will discuss these natural follow-up questions here and give my opinion based on my in-depth understanding of kratom law and the legal market.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in our articles are represented solely as the opinions of the respective authors, who do not claim to be medical professionals. We are not medical experts, just kratom enthusiasts.

North Carolina bans various drugs by scheduling them under the Controlled Substances Act. When a state bans kratom, it schedules the entire kratom plant or the mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG) alkaloids. Thankfully, North Carolina does neither!

Furthermore, the legal kratom landscape there is as simple as it gets. Unlike some states, no counties or cities within North Carolina have banned the substance. Kratom is also legal in all the surrounding states.

Therefore, provided you are 18 or over, you can relax! There's no risk of falling foul of an obscure or poorly publicized law.

Has North Carolina Attempted to Ban Kratom?

Yes, North Carolina has discussed making kratom illegal, citing overdose concerns. Fears mounted in 2016, around the time that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed making kratom a Schedule I drug at the federal level.

In May 2016, two senators sponsored a bill to add kratom to North Carolina’s controlled substances list. North Carolina Senate Bill 830 (NC SB830) proposed putting mitragynine and 7-HMG in the most restrictive Schedule I category.

The Controlled Substances Act states that Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use in the United States. But making the two most abundant alkaloids in kratom Schedule I drugs would have been a crazy overreaction.

Kratom does not belong with substances like crack cocaine or meth. However, Sen. Thomas McInnis (R), who sponsored NC SB830, still likened kratom to these drugs. He stoked fears that kratom could become “the next epidemic” in North Carolina.

Ultimately, the state came to its senses and did not bring the hammer down on kratom. NC SB830 died in the chamber, but North Carolina banned the sale of kratom products to those under 18.

This was a smart move. Kratom is for adults, and allowing minors to access products increases the risk of nasty accidents, such as overdoses or worse.

Since the 2016 ban attempt, no further bills to make kratom a controlled substance have made it to either chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly. I hope it stays that way. 

Kratom Consumer Protection Act

Considering the past legal interest in kratom, it is slightly odd that North Carolina lawmakers have not looked at the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA). The KCPA provides the kratom market with regulations, setting conditions on ingredients, product labeling, and more.

Historically, kratom-related problems have been caused less by the substance itself and more by issues with products. For instance, in 2018, a salmonella outbreak across the U.S. was linked to contaminated kratom. This could have been avoided were the KCPA in place.

A 2019 incident in North Carolina highlighted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed the risks of no regulation. The FDA warned consumers not to use products from Kratom NC, a Wilmington-based company, due to microbial contamination.

Kratom users are understandably wary of government intervention. But KCPA-style regulation is about protecting users, not restricting the industry. Moreover, the KCPA has the backing of the American Kratom Association (AKA). 

Kratom may be legal, but it doesn’t have the best reputation in North Carolina. Local news media often talk about it in the worst way possible. For example, this article in Raleigh Magazine described kratom as herbal heroin!

I think kratom is in a precarious position in the Tar Heel State. It is still misunderstood, and the absence of regulation makes problems with products more likely.

And, in theory, if kratom is unregulated, it could be less of a leap for lawmakers to add it to the Controlled Substances Act. There is no existing threat to legal kratom in North Carolina, but this should be food for thought for those who want it to stay like that.

Kratom at the Federal Level

North Carolina could move in tandem with the federal government on kratom. I think this is more likely in states that have not developed an independent kratom policy. That creates another risk factor for kratom’s legal status in NC.

Activists battled off a DEA move to make kratom a Schedule I drug in 2016. But that doesn’t mean the DEA won’t try again, especially if more research comes to light about its properties. Even classifying kratom as a Schedule V drug would finish the current legal market.

I talk more about the federal government’s kratom stance here. 

Where to Buy Kratom Products in North Carolina?

All kratom products are legal in North Carolina. Powder, capsules, leaves, extracts, tea bags… If you want it, you can get it! But there are things to think about when shopping in an unregulated market.

Third-party lab testing takes on more importance. You have a right to know how potent a product is and whether it has passed purity checks before buying. Steer clear if the vendor will not happily supply you with this information upon request.

I have spotted kratom in all kinds of North Carolina shops. Gas stations, convenience stores, head shops, and smoke shops tend to sell kratom. There are also a few specialist kratom vendors dotted around the state - such shops care more about product quality than others.

However, the best place to buy kratom in North Carolina is on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone! Online vendors offer more variety, maximum convenience, and a better value experience than your typical brick-and-mortar shop. And you will often get free shipping, too!

But perhaps you are pressed for time and want kratom right now. If shopping at the store is more your bag, check out these stores in Asheville, Fayetteville, and Raleigh. 

Smoke & Talk Kratom, Kava, Disposable E-Cig
Kratom Asheville
Candy Shop & Kratom

Final Thoughts

North Carolina has a bustling kratom scene, and products are in high demand despite the often-negative press coverage.

I am confident that the Tar Heel State will keep kratom legal, but market regulation would provide the industry with extra security.

Feb 28th 2023 Andrew Summer

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