Is Kratom Legal in Rhode Island? [2023 Update]

Hey everybody! My name is Andrew and I am passionate about emerging substances, including kratom and CBD. I have seen them help so many people, including those close to me.

Learn more at About Us.

Jan 19, 2023

The kratom revolution has taken the U.S. by storm over the past decade or so. From pretty much a standing start, there are now millions of people using Mitragyna Speciosa. But not every state is on board. So, is kratom legal in Rhode Island?

I am afraid kratom is illegal in Rhode Island. In 2017, the state passed legislation banning mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG), the two main indole alkaloids in kratom. Unfortunately, this prohibition is still in place in 2023.

You probably have some questions. Why did Rhode Island ban kratom? Is there anyone working to overturn the ban? And could Little Rhody legalize kratom in the future? Let’s discuss it.

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.
Is Kratom Legal in Rhode Island?

No, kratom is banned in Rhode Island for all purposes. The state classifies mitragynine and 7-HMG as Schedule I controlled substances. It is illegal for individuals to possess or use kratom, for vendors to sell it, and for manufacturers to produce it.

The Rhode Island Department of Health describes Schedule I drugs as having “the greatest potential for abuse and no known medical value.” Other Schedule I substances in Rhode Island include heroin, ecstasy, LSD, and peyote.

By banning kratom’s key indole alkaloids instead of Mitragyna speciosa in general, Rhode Island stops savvy companies from finding loopholes and workarounds. Kratom contains dozens of active compounds, but mitragynine and 7-HMG account for most of the herb’s effects.

Keep in mind that Rhode Island’s kratom ban also applies to non-residents. Don't assume you will get away with kratom possession in Little Rhody because you live in Connecticut or New Hampshire.

Punishments for Kratom Law Violations in Rhode Island

Unsurprisingly, Schedule I drug violations in Rhode Island carry severe penalties. However, in 2021, the state’s governor passed a law downgrading possession of specific controlled substances from a felony to a misdemeanor.

But mitragynine and 7-HMG did not appear in this legislation, so the strictest Schedule I drug penalties still apply to these substances. Kratom possession in Rhode Island is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine between $500 and $5000.

And that is just for a first offense. Rhode Island can impose harsher penalties for repeated convictions. These are crazy punishments for a substance like kratom, but that is the sorry truth of the situation.

Moreover, a conviction for manufacturing kratom products in Rhode Island is punishable by up to a lifetime prison sentence and a fine between $10,000 and $500,000.

History of Kratom Law in Rhode Island

History of Kratom Law in Rhode Island

This section will explore how RI came to such a restrictive position before looking at the recent efforts to repeal the ban and pass the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA).

Department of Health Order

In early 2017, the Rhode Island Department of Health issued a devastating order. The agency determined that mitragynine and 7-HMG posed a danger to public health and that they be classified as Schedule I drugs under RI’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

And that was it. No debate, no vote, and no objections to the decision within the Department of Health. Overnight, kratom went from being as legal as coffee to as illegal as heroin.

Rhode Island House Bill 5542 (RI HB5542)

In 2019, state legislators attempted to overturn the ban and pass the KCPA. House representatives Brian Kennedy (D) and Grace Diaz (D) sponsored RI HB5542, a bill that would have banned contaminated kratom, prohibited the sale of products to minors, and more.

The KCPA contains a set of pragmatic regulations supported by kratom advocacy organizations. Unfortunately, RI HB5542 died in the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee, which recommended the bill for further study.

Rhode Island House Bill 7289 (RI HB7289)

Undeterred, the same lawmakers tried passing the KCPA again in 2020, this time with the support of Rep. Stephen Ucci (D). Sadly, the result was the same. RI HB7289 died in the same committee, which again suggested that further study was required.

Rhode Island House Bill 5909 (RI HB5909)

Third time lucky? Not quite, but Rep. Kennedy and Rep. Diaz made another attempt to pass the KCPA in 2021, this time alongside Rep. John Edwards (D). After recommending RI HB5909 for further study, the committee recommended indefinitely postponing the bill in June of that year.

Rhode Island House Bill 7595 (RI HB7595)

In 2022, the KCPA came closer to passing than ever before. Four House representatives sponsored RI HB7595 (the three mentioned above and Rep. Samuel Azzarino (D)).

The bill passed a House Roll Call by a 47-12 margin in June 2022 before moving to the Senate. Frustratingly, RI HB7595 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. But it marked impressive progress to get one chamber to pass the KCPA in a state where kratom is banned.

Rhode Island House Bill 5330 (RI HB5330)

We go again in 2023! Rep. Edwards and Rep. Kennedy introduced the KCPA once more in February. RI HB5330 sets a provision that anybody found violating the KCPA will be subject to an administrative fine between $500 and $1000.

The bill has been referred to the House Corporations Committee. Let’s hope this isn’t another false dawn for kratom in Rhode Island and that lawmakers work together to get it passed.

Will Rhode Island Ever Legalize Kratom?

Will Rhode Island Ever Legalize Kratom?

After so many failed efforts, it is fair to wonder whether kratom will ever become legal again in Little Rhody. Sadly, convincing legislators to ease restrictions on a Schedule I drug will not be easy.

That said, I am optimistic. The movement to legalize kratom in Rhode Island seems stronger and more persistent than in other states where the plant is banned. The House has shown support for the KCPA - now the challenge is to get the Senate and the governor on board.

Rhode Island lawmakers can look to other states to see how the KCPA works in reality. It’s not a theoretical act, and passing it would not be a gamble. Arizona, Georgia, and Utah are all examples of how the KCPA can create a safer kratom industry.

Kratom at the Federal Level

A change in federal kratom policy may also benefit Rhode Islanders. With senators on both sides of the aisle supporting kratom regulation (the Federal Clarity for Kratom Consumers Act), a national KCPA could be a realistic prospect. Time will tell.

And if the federal government regulates kratom, Rhode Island may adopt an identical approach. Click here for more info on federal kratom law.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

With kratom illegal since 2017, Rhode Islanders have reason to be frustrated. And the now failed annual effort to pass the KCPA is also a cause for irritation.

But if I was to predict which states might unban kratom, Rhode Island would be at the top of my list. There is more political will than ever to legalize and regulate the substance. Now it is a matter of building that momentum and getting a bill over the line.

Feb 28th 2023 Andrew Summer

Explore Popular Articles