When it comes to anything touching on the war against opioid abuse in Canada, even tangentially, the debate can very quickly become drowned out in the midst of all the noise from the various corners of the debate. Take the controversy around Kratom, for example. Kratom is the commonly used name for Mitragyna Speciosa, a naturally occurring stimulant that has found a market in Canada, and the western world in general, as a dietary/nutritional supplement.
When taken in relatively low dosages, it will have a stimulant effect on the taker’s system, but at high dosages, its effects become somewhat more startling. At these dosage levels, it will affect you just as morphine, a strong opiate, would. The result of this would be to rewire how the brain’s opioid receptors work, essentially changing how the brain itself normally works. Many in the country wonder – Is Kratom legal in Canada?
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is the governing body tasked with overseeing such matters, is of the opinion the extended usage of Kratom presents an unacceptably high probability of dependency and addiction. This is at the heart of the debate as to whether Kratom should be legal for purchase and use in Canada. At the moment, you can purchase and ingest Kratom as its classification doesn’t make it a controlled substance but there’s no telling what the future may hold, especially in light of the current opioid catastrophe sweeping through the western world.
Let’s take a look at the controversy around Kratom, what both sides of the debate have to say about it, and where exactly the regulations around it stand. Let’s get right to it.
•Who Decides What’s Legal or Not in Canada?
First of all, we need to take a look at who exactly is responsible for the classification of controlled substances within Canada’s borders. This duty falls upon the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in coordination with Health Canada. The CFIA is a science-backed organization whose stated mission is to safeguard animals, food, and plants, thereby enhancing the health and wellness of the Canadian peoples, economy, and environment.
Health Canada, on the other hand, may be said to be in charge of the nutritional food quality standards enforced all over Canada when it comes to food. All food sold to Canadians within the country’s borders must comply with the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Acts and Regulations as well as the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.
Now, what Health Canada does is take a close look at whether or not a product might be considered a food or a Natural Health Product (NHP), and with this information decides what its classification should be. The factors it pays close attention to our product composition, product format, product presentation, as well as its perceived history of usage and reputation. Based on its conclusions, appropriate regulatory frameworks can then be built up around the product. Those considered foods will be governed by the CFIA’s Food and Drug Regulations, while those deemed to be Natural Health Products (NHPs) will be steered by different, specific regulations.
•What is Kratom’s Current Classification?
Now with that said, we can go into what Health Canada’s conclusions about Kratom were. According to them, Kratom is a herbal remedy that has the ability to bring about serious health issues when inhaled or swallowed. These risks include vomiting, nausea, seizures, drowsiness, liver toxicity, and heightened pulse rate.
They go on to warn that Kratom has been ascribed certain properties peculiar to stimulants and narcotics, which leads them to believe that there is a very real risk of dependency and addiction developing when it comes to Kratom. Basically, even though Kratom has been classified under the banner of Natural Health Products (NHPs), it has not been given the green light for commercial distribution to the public by Health Canada.
•Well…Is Kratom Legal In Canada or Not?
This is where things get a little bit murky, unfortunately.
The fact of the matter is that according to both the CFIAs regulations and Health Canada’s policy, Kratom is not to be legally sold in Canada for human consumption. Those caught selling it may find themselves facing criminal charges in Canadian courts. The blurriness of the whole situation is as a result of the fact that it’s all too easy to get your hands on Kratom in Canada. It would lead us to conclude that the act of consuming Kratom in itself is not illegal.
The organic product may not be cleared for internal use, but there is a simple way around it for those wishing to supply it to the public, and that’s by simply labelling it as unfit for human consumption. They could choose to market it as an ingredient used in the process of soap making, aromatherapy, spirituality’, or any one of such vague terms.
•Should It Be?
Whether you agree with the state of Kratom’s legal situation and how consumers and retailers choose to interpret it, the question still stands – should Kratom be legal in Canada or not? The fact is, those that claim that it has ill effects are doing so with very little scientific evidence to back them up. Kratom is a relatively new product on the western scene and those who advocate for its legality would like to see more research done into claims of harmful effects before the relevant authorities make up their minds about it.
Proponents of legalization make the claim that Kratom’s effects, even though seemingly in the same class as those of narcotics and opiates, are extremely mild in comparison. They tell us that Kratom is 60 times less powerful than opiates such as morphine or heroin.
•The Final Word
The bottom line, in their opinion, is that we have yet to see any conclusive evidence pointing to abuse potential and health risks when it comes to Kratom, even though it does present some undeniable similarities to opioids in how it affects humans. The research just doesn’t justify making any definitive judgments on it just yet, and it has helped thousands overcome the withdrawal symptoms of opioid dependency as we speak. Perhaps Kratom should be given a fair chance before being consigned to the realm of illegal substances.