Kratom: Is it Legal in Australia?


Is Kratom Legal in Australia? Kratom is illegal in several countries, including Australia. People have mixed feelings about Kratom. Some are calling for this substance to be more regulated with harsher penalties, while others have strong opinions on the benefits and effectiveness of Kratom. 


However, Kratom is addictive. It has many adverse side effects, and this has led many countries across the world to ban the use of this substance. It is crucial to consider the negative side effects, the penalties and the Kratom laws in Australia before purchasing and using this substance. 

Kratom is illegal in Australia

The Australian government banned the use of Kratom in 2003 based on its potential abuse as a narcotic substance. Kratom was criminalised by Australia in 2005. It is illegal and prohibited in Australia to purchase, possess, supply or distribute, manufacture or produce Kratom. Kratom is illegal across all the States and Territories in Australia.


The Australian Drug and Poisons Schedule Committee classified Kratom, Mitragynine, and 7-hydroxy mitragynine as narcotics with other Schedule 9 substances. Therefore, the law implies that Kratom’s legal status is that of a narcotic drug, making the use of the substance illegal. 


Australia also banned the sale, import, or export of Kratom leaves and other ingredients as well as the use of Kratom in any form. Kratom was placed and remains on the list of Schedule 9 substances of the Poisons Standard with the current edition being the Poisons Standard February 2022. 


Schedule 9 category substances include all substances which may be abused or misused by a person. Substances are classified as prohibited substances in the Schedule 9 category. These substances include synthetic psychoactive drugs. These substances mimic the effects of other existing illicit drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy, and cannabis. Many of these substances are criminalised under Section 18B.  The Schedules published in the Poisons Standard are legally executed in the different State and Territories. 


The Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW) prohibits “prohibited drugs” as outlined in Schedule 1 of the Act. A substance can be included in Schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act when the substance and its health risks have been identified, concerns were raised about the possible misuse of the substance, and any associated criminal activity.


Schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act prescribes a list of substances and plants as prohibited drugs and plants and stipulates the relevant with what is considered a small, traffickable, indictable, commercial, or large commercial quantity. 


The Act also prohibits Schedule 9 substances as substances within the meaning of the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 (NSW) under the definitions section of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act. Section 8 of the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 also outlines the poisons list and it also includes Schedule 9 as substances that are specified in Schedule 9 of the current Poisons Standard. This includes Kratom as a substance. 


Substances or poisons are not scheduled based on a universal scale of toxicity. The following factors are considered when a decision is made to include a substance in a particular schedule:


·        Toxicity

·        The purpose of its use

·        The abuse potential

·        Safety when used

·        The need for the substance


The possession, use, and distribution of a Schedule 9 substance are prohibited and are an offence and can result in penalties. However, the use of Kratom products is allowed for analytical, teaching, or training purposes or medical and scientific research only. This medical research and clinical trials are conducted with the approval of the Commonwealth and the State or Territory Health Authorities. 


The maximum penalty for the supply and manufacture of a Schedule 9 prohibited substance is significantly lower when compared to those classified as prohibited drugs or plants under the Act. Government imposes this overarching offence to adapt to any new substances that may arise and are included in the current Poisons Standard as Schedule 9. The government wants to prevent manufacturers from using legal loopholes by tweaking the chemical structures of the drugs. 




It is illegal to use or possess Kratom. According to Section 18B(3) Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1989 (NSW), the offences carry penalties ranging from 12 months to two years imprisonment and/or a $2,200 fine. However, most offenders are convicted and receive a fine only. 


Similar penalties for the manufacturing, producing, supplying, or using of Kratom apply across the State and Territories of Australia because Kratom is a Schedule 9 substance on the Poisons list. 


Possible Defences


It is important to speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer for advice on possible available defences. Available defences to Kratom offences may be:


·        A person holds a valid license or is authorised to manufacture, produce, supply, or possess Kratom un the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 (NSW)

·        A person is authorised to manufacture, produce, supply, or possess Kratom by the Secretary of the Ministry of Health under Section 17D of the Act

What is Kratom?

Kratom is a type of plant that traditionally grows in Southeast Asia. Many advocates have praised this tropical tree for its health benefits, but it is currently illegal in Australia and in numerous countries across the world. 


The plant is an evergreen tropical tree-like plant with large green leaves. Kratom is extracted from the leaves. The leaves have mild stimulant effects with analgesic properties and euphoric effects. The leaves contain mitragynine chemicals similar to opioids and other stimulant drugs. The consumption of the leaves of the plant causes stimulant and sedative effects in different doses. 


Kratom has a strong aroma, nearly as strong as substances such as marijuana and heroin. Kratom has a lot of similarities with controlled substances like heroin and marijuana. The risk factors for these substances are similar and can lead to drug addiction, drug abuse, and possible death.


Kratom is available as a tea, in a powder, in leaf form, or as a tablet or capsule. It is primarily used by oral ingestion via tablet or capsule, but the leaves can also be crushed and smoked or brewed as tea. The raw Kratom leaves were traditionally chewed in Thailand and other parts of Asia.

The Different Strains of Kratom

Kratom has multiple different strains. Kratom has two principal alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. Each variety has a diverse mix of mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. These different strains provide different and various effects to users. 


The strains are separated by colour of the veins on the leaves. Kratom strains are categorised into:


·        White Vein Kratom

·        Red Vein Kratom

·        Green Vein Kratom


White Vein Kratom


White Vein Kratom is a stimulant and nootropic and it is also a muscle relaxant that helps to increase energy. This type of Kratom is more stimulating when consumed in small doses. White strains are rich in 7-hydroxy mitragynine and this is a serotonergic alkaloid. 


Red Vein Kratom


This type of Kratom works as a sedative. It is an analgesic and anxiolytic, and it is believed to help a person relax and sleep and to manage pain. Red strains are rich in mitragynine, a mu-opioid agonist alkaloid. Red Kratom can cause euphoria in higher doses. 


Green Vein Kratom


The Green Vein Kratom is the most commonly found and it is usually the cheapest. It has a deep green colour. This type of Kratom has a stimulating effect and can also work as a painkiller, sedative, nootropic, and mood-supportive. Users believe Green Vein Kratom has a positive impact on chronic pain and inflammation. Some people use Kratom to relieve stress and anxiety and to sleep better. 

The Effects of Kratom

The use of Kratom is steadily gaining popularity, and pro-kratom users are listing some benefits of this plant. The different strains have different effects on self-reported users. Kratom produces a stimulant effect, and at low doses, users reported increased alertness, physical energy, and talkativeness. However, users experienced sedative effects if they ingest Kratom in high dosages. 


A person ingesting just a few grams of Kratom will experience the stimulant effect of this plant. These effects usually start within the first 10 minutes after ingestion. The effects of the plant will be sedative if larger dosages are ingested. People will feel euphoria, calmness, and sedation and these effects can last up to six hours. 


Some of the other effects noted by self-reported Kratom users are:


·        Increased concentration and focus

·        Manage pain and is a great pain reliever

·        Helpful during opiate withdrawal

·        Alleviate anxiety symptoms

·        Help as a mood supporter

·        Cause a euphoric feeling

·        Muscle relaxer


White vein strains is believed to increase concentration and focus and red vein Kratom is believed to be a great pain reliever. Red Vein Kratom is believed to work for anxiety and White Vein Kratom is believed to treat depression. Research at John Hopkins Medicine has found 91% of 2 700 self-reported users use Kratom for pain relief, 67% used it for anxiety, 64% use it to treat their depression and 41% of the users use it to treat opioid dependence. 


Kratom is believed to alleviate opiate cravings during the abstinence period of opiate withdrawal because it has similar effects and action mechanisms. 87% of the self-reported users reported relief during withdrawal and 35% did not take any other opioids or heroin for more than a year. 


People usually use Red Vein Kratom in the evening and Red or Green Vein Kratom as stimulation during the day. People use Kratom in medicinal ways and believe this substance is safe to use. However, no evidence supports that it holds any medical value, although the side effects when mixed with other drugs or taken in high doses pose a great risk to a person’s health.


The Kratom dose for each individual varies and depends on some of the following factors. A person’s:


·        Age

·        Sex

·        Weight

·        Tolerance


Each person is different and dosages taken differ with every individual. It is important to note that an individual cannot exceed ingesting more than these dosages. This can lead to an overdose with serious side-effects and possible death.


·        Low dosage (1-3g)

·        Medium dosage (3-5g)

·        High dosage (5-8g)

Side-Effects of Kratom

It is also important to note the side-effects of Kratom. Kratom is a natural opioid and because of how the brain reacts Kratom consumption can lead to addiction and can become habit-forming. Some studies have indicated that 1.9% of users also experienced some other serious side effects, while 19% of users experienced mild side effects and some deaths due to Kratom have been reported. It is unsafe to use Kratom whilst under the influence of alcohol or during pregnancy.


The following side effects have been reported:


·        Hallucinations

·        Feelings of irritability and agitation

·        Gastrointestinal issues or constipation

·        Increased urination

·        Tachycardia

·        Itching

·        Sweating

·        Dry mouth

·        Low blood pressure

·        Nausea

·        Vomiting

·        Seizures

·        Liver damage

·        Lethargy

·        Dizziness and drowsiness

·        Loss of appetite


A person will experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking Kratom. 

Buying Kratom in Australia

It is illegal to buy Kratom in Australia or in any of the States and Territories. 


Kratom is legal in some countries, and a person can purchase Kratom in these countries. It is however important to remember that a person cannot enter Australia with Kratom in their possession. 

A person can purchase Kratom illegally online. Kratom sellers attempt to post Kratom to customers via mail and label the product as green tea or coffee. Kratom remains banned in Australia, and it is illegal to purchase the product, despite the attempts of the scientific community to legalise the use of this substance. 


The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission noted that enormous amounts of this plant-based substance are seized worldwide every year. Authorities seize more Kratom than any other plant-based psychoactive substances. 


The legal status of Kratom still sparks ongoing conversation with no clear perspective if this status might change in the future. The use, possession, production, and distribution of Kratom currently remain regulated and illegal in Australia.


Contact Lyons Law Group to assist with any Kratom-related legal matters.  

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    • Mohammad Khan | Criminal Defence Lawyer

      Mohammad Khan is the Principal Solicitor of Lyons Law Group. After graduating with a Bachelor of Aviation from the University of New South Wales, Mohammad took a keen interest in the law. He began training in criminal law under the tutelage of Australia’s leading criminal lawyer Adam Houda and studied law at the University of Sydney.