In recent years, the military has cracked down on designer drug use in a big way. As far back as 2009, service members have been penalized for using or possessing illicit substances.
15 sailors were separated from their naval base in Japan after they were found to be in possession of Spice, the controversial marijuana alternative that was legal in Japan. A number of other substances were listed as being off-limits to sailors, among them Mitragyna speciosa (read: kratom).
This has led many in the kratom community to wonder whether or not kratom is considered verboten when it comes to our troops. The answer is murky at best—military personnel are strongly discouraged from using any product that is not approved for medicinal use by the FDA.
So where does this leave us?
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As of 2014, kratom was legal for civilians but not for active duty service members. Use of kratom by military personnel could result in judicial action.
The Air Force explicitly 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.”*
Since kratom is on the Defense Department’s list of prohibited substances, all service members will be subject to a drug screening. However, kratom use will not produce a positive result on a routine DoD drug test.
Although kratom is now forbidden in the US Army and Navy, it is not off-limits to those serving in the Marines. Military drug screenings are only equipped to test for amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, Ecstasy, LSD, marijuana, opiates (,i.e. heroin or morphine) and PCP.
While kratom does not show up on standard drug tests, such as SAMHSA-5, some of its alkaloids may be detectable on select tests. It is unclear whether the military has implemented tests that could detect significant amounts of kratom’s alkaloids.
In 2017, it was announced that the military would be expanding its drug screenings to check for all drugs that are tested in active duty members. The expansion tests for 26 drug types, but kratom is not one of them.
Many in the military complex are unaware of kratom or what to look for when testing military trainees at MEPS. For this reason, the drug screening process is opaque and it is unclear whether newcomers can expect to pop for kratom during a routine drug test.
That being said, kratom’s alkaloids are cause for alarm if you are an active duty service member since some of them may present as an opioid because they are opioid receptor antagonists. This is especially true of mitragynine, the most abundant indole alkaloid in kratom powder.
Some have speculated that the military will be implementing drug tests that can separately detect kratom. As of this writing, no such drug test exists. As kratom continues to be demonized by the mainstream media, it is only a matter of time before such tests are implemented.
This is the big question on the minds of senior military executives and, of course, it is a difficult question to answer. Despite kratom’s potential for tolerance, addiction and abuse in the long term, short-term use is generally considered to be pretty innocuous.
The seasoned kratom user will tell you that kratom is a viable natural supplement for improved mood, enhanced cognition and restful sleep. Thousands of people have been using kratom in the United States alone.
Historically, kratom has been used for centuries as a folk medicine in its native Southeast Asia. Kratom leaf has been found to possess anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrheal properties. It also contains powerful antioxidants which may be beneficial.
Regardless, the FDA has not approved kratom for medicinal use and is not intended for human consumption. As a matter of fact, the FDA issued a public warning, urging Americans to avoid kratom use after a rash of salmonella cases were linked to select kratom brands.
Kratom overdose is something which is up for debate, but one thing is unequivocal: Kratom hangover is real. Many individuals who have taken 10 mgs of kratom powder or more have experienced kratom hangover.
Like an alcohol hangover, kratom hangover can result in headache, vomiting and lethargy. Unlike an alcohol hangover, kratom hangover can result in sleep disturbance and acute nausea.
The good news is, it is easy to avoid a kratom hangover by drinking copious amounts of water and selecting a stimulating kratom strain rather than a sedating strain.
Military men and women should use discretion when purchasing or burning kratom. Expect random drug tests to crop up during your time in the service. Be safe, be smart and be well.
* Air Force Instruction 44-121, paragraph 3.5.6
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