Kratom: Legal for civilians, not for service members

  • Published
  • By Capt. Joseph Cachuela
  • 17th Training Wing Legal Office
One of the newest entries into the U.S. drug market is Kratom, an organic substance originally from Southeast Asia.

Derived from a tree, it is typically used for its varying stimulant and sedative effects, depending on the dosage. It is usually sold as crushed leaves, powder, extract or capsules. Most users ingest Kratom by smoking it or soaking it in tea. It is an addictive drug, and there have been several cases of addicts experiencing psychotic symptoms, to include hallucinations, delusion and confusion.

Because of its relatively recent rise in popularity, Kratom can still be purchased legally from smoke shops or over the Internet and is advertised as a legal drug. While that is true, it has not yet been placed on the Drug Enforcement Administration Controlled Substances List, and is not approved for use by military members. The use of Kratom can be charged as a violation of the Air Force's rules on the use of mind-altering substances.

According to Air Force Instruction 44-121, paragraph 3.5.6, the Air Force prohibits, "the knowing use of any intoxicating substance, other than the lawful use of alcohol or tobacco products, that is inhaled, injected, consumed or introduced into the body in any manner to alter mood or function." Airmen should be aware that its use is prohibited and can be charged as an offense under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

This is a serious drug with serious consequences.