How Does Health Canada Determine The Legality Of Kratom?
Mitragyna speciosa, commonly known as kratom, is a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia, which is widely touted for its diverse pharmacological applications.
Numerous studies have shown that kratom may help with pain management and opioid withdrawal symptoms. That’s due to its positive interactions with the opioid receptors in the brain.
Research also cites kratom for its anti-inflammatory properties. When consumed, certain compounds in the herb, such as rhynchophyllines and epicatechins, alleviate inflammation by inhibiting the release of chemokines and cytokines. Fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia are other common medical issues that you can resolve using Mitragyna speciosa supplements.
However, like many herbs, kratom is yet to be mainstreamed in many countries worldwide. So, it’s imperative to tread with caution before using, distributing, or otherwise being in possession of kratom products.
We’ve prepared a definitive guide to kratom’s legality in Canada, with a special focus on one of the agencies charged with regulating the herb within Canadian borders – Health Canada.
Is Kratom Legal In Canada?
Before we delve deeper into the role of Health Canada, it’s essential to get one fundamental question out of the way – is kratom Canada legal?
The short answer is yes, kratom is legal in Canada. That explains the growing number of credible kratom suppliers in the country, such as BC Kratom.
However, the situation isn’t as cut and dried as it may sound.
Kratom is subject to a regulatory framework that clearly spells out what constitutes legal and illegal kratom products. According to Canadian kratom laws, it’s legal to possess and consume kratom-infused goods but illegal to sell and distribute such products.
Law enforcement officers do not concern themselves so much with who’s possessing or using kratom. Rather, their focus is on who’s distributing the herb with the intention of selling it. Law enforcement is especially strict on traders selling kratom products for oral ingestion and those marketing such supplements as safe for human consumption.
What Is Health Canada?
Health Canada is the department of the Government of Canada charged with maintaining national health policy. The department is responsible for regulating several other health-related agencies, such as the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Together with the agencies under its ambit, Health Canada helps enforce compliance with federal law pertaining to healthcare, pharmaceutical, and agricultural activities. The organization answers to the Parliament of Canada through the Minister of Health.
Health Canada has been around for over a century, although not in its current form.
The Canadian government established the Department of Health in 1919, right after the Spanish flu crisis. In 1944, the Health and Welfare Canada department was launched. This would later be split into two units in 1993, namely Health Canada and Human Resources and Labour Canada.
How Does Health Canada Determine Kratom’s Legality in Canada?
As already indicated, the primary objective of Health Canada is to formulate and enforce national health policy. The organization works towards maintaining and improving Canadians’ overall health and well-being.
Not only does Health Canada enforce regulations aimed at improving access to quality healthcare services. It also liaises with relevant bodies in reducing health risks posed by certain compounds. These include both pharmaceutical and agricultural products.
Health Canada begins by determining a product’s classification. It then determines whether the item constitutes a Food or a Natural Heal Product (NHP).
In the case of kratom, Health Canada considers the herb as an agricultural product but not a food or pharmaceutical one. That explains why the agency has since formulated regulations against selling and distributing kratom-infused supplements.
Health Canada doesn’t dispute the fact that kratom may offer certain therapeutic benefits. However, the department is concerned more about the potential adverse effects associated with the herb. According to the agency, kratom has been linked to both narcotic and stimulant-like effects. As such, extracts from the plant may pose serious health risks to consumers, including nausea, vomiting, liver damage, and seizures.
Health Canada believes so strongly in kratom’s potential adverse effects that the department has since stated it’s working closely with the Canada Border Services Agency to curb the importation of kratom products into the country.
Is There A Way Around Health Canada Regulations On Kratom?
Under Health Canada kratom regulations, it’s illegal to sell the herb as a consumable natural health product. However, kratom products are sold and consumed all over the country.
So, how have kratom consumers and traders worked out a way around these regulatory bottlenecks?
First, it’s worth noting that Health Canada and other health policy enforcers in Canada do not primarily target consumers. While the law bans the sale of consumable kratom goods, Health Canada will unlikely have you arrested for using such products.
However, consumers cannot report any adverse effects from ingesting kratom to Health Canada. The department may prefer charges against the sellers of ingestible kratom products. But it will not take liability for negative reactions resulting directly from the consumption of such products.
As a kratom user in Canada, the best way to enjoy the herb is to insist on its non-ingestible forms. These include inhalable and topicals. It’s also prudent to order all your kratom supplements from a reputable vendor. One way to vouch for a seller’s reputation is to check for online reviews and establish that their products come with proof of lab testing in the form of a certificate of analysis (CoA).
What about kratom traders?
It’s possible to deal in kratom products in Canada without running afoul of the law.
First, prioritize non-ingestible kratom supplements. There are multiple options to experiment with under every category. Popular kratom inhalable you could sell include pre-rolls and vape oils. As for topicals, you could stock kratom-enriched salves, ointments, creams, bath bombs, face masks, and sunscreens, to mention but a few. There’s also the option of selling kratom aromatherapy products. Since aromatherapy works by smelling and inhalation, you’re unlikely to be apprehended for contravening any regulations.
If you must deal in consumable kratom goods, such as kratom-infused capsules and herbal teas, be sure not to market such products as safe for consumption. You’d also do well to give dosage recommendations while also clearly indicating potential adverse effects and contraindications on the product’s label.
Displaying such information may not automatically put you in Health Canada’s good books. But officers from the department may look the other way since you’re demonstrating a genuine desire to improve your clients’ health and not merely rake in profits from selling unregulated products to them.
Health Canada, it’s illegal to sell kratom as a consumable product. The department, however, doesn’t bar kratom users from consuming the herb in their preferred formulations.