Native to Southeast Asia, the leaves of the kratom tree contain a psychoactive ingredient that can have various effects on the human body when consumed or smoked. In high doses, it works as a sedative, but low doses produce stimulant effects. 

A marked increase in kratom abuse has occurred over recent years in the United States. Nevertheless, its legal status is uncertain in many areas of the country although some states, including Alabama, have outlawed it. 

Status at the federal level 

The Drug Enforcement Agency considers kratom a drug of concern. In other words, it acknowledges that the substance poses potential risks to those who use it even though the Federal Controlled Substances Act does not yet apply to it. Kratom use has prompted increased numbers of calls to poison control centers and can cause seizures, liver problems, insomnia and symptoms of psychosis. After deciding to list kratom as a Schedule I drug, which would have made it illegal at the federal level, the DEA reversed that decision a few months later, opening a public comment period on kratom instead. 

Status in Alabama 

According to Recovery Village, kratom was legal in Alabama until 2016. In spring of that year, state law designated it a Schedule I controlled substance, imposing the greatest possible restrictions on its sale, distribution and/or possession. Schedule I substances have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Classifying kratom as such allows authorities in Alabama to press the same charges for possession or distribution of kratom that they would for illicit drugs such as LSD or heroin.