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Can I get arrested for possessing kratom here in Georgia?

In recent years, there has been a nationwide crackdown on opioid drugs prescribed by doctors. While this was intended to combat the scourge of opiate addiction that has claimed so many lives and ruined families all over the United States, it has also had some adverse consequences.

Many patients who were legitimately prescribed pain pills and who took them responsibly to stave off intractable chronic pain now cannot get the relief they need. As a result, some have turned to the use of kratom to treat their pain.

What is kratom?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is an indigenous evergreen that grows in the tropical regions of Southeast Asia. Kratom is in the Rubiaceae family like gardenias and coffee.

When the leaves of the plant are dried and smoked, boiled and drunk in a tea or consumed by mouth, the user experiences mild stimulation from low doses and euphoria and relief from pain at higher dosages. People also reportedly use it to detox from heroin and prescription opioid drugs.

But is it legal?

Unlike drugs that are regulated by the federal government, as of this posting, kratom is not subject to federal regulations. In Georgia, in April of 2019, HB 551 was signed into law. The law states that:

“No person shall sell or transfer possession of kratom to another person under 18 years of age, nor shall any person under 18 years of age possess kratom. A person who is convicted of violating this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

The law also deals with the labeling of the ingredient levels in the drug but has stopped short of prohibiting its sale, purchase or possession by legal adults.

Arrest first, ask questions later

You should never assume that even though you may be legally permitted to use or possess kratom that having it in your possession could still not result in an arrest by law enforcement. Some officers may never have heard of the drug and assume it is an illegal substance.

Others may have heard of it and know its legal status but may still dispute the identity of the substance out in the field. You could wind up arrested and taken to jail while your kratom is sent off to a lab to be tested.

If you get stopped and arrested for possessing kratom or any other drug, understanding your rights under the law is essential for any good outcome.