Kratom is a controversial substance. Many love it and swear by it. Others say it’s dangerous. Since it’s a plant with promising medicinal properties, of course, the FDA won’t approve it. And even though it’s not illegal at the federal level, many states, counties, and municipalities have banned the substance. Luckily, here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re down as hell with plant medicine and you can still buy kratom in Seattle and all over Washington.

In fact, you may have noticed if you frequent smoke and glass shops, that kratom is quite popular in Seattle. But just because you can buy it, doesn’t mean you should. Just like any herbal supplements, when there are virtually no regulations, you don’t know what you’re getting. So before you rush out and grab some, it’s best to learn about the plant and find a reputable source.

What is Kratom?

Kratom, for those who don’t know, is the powdered form of a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. The tree’s Latin name is Mitragyna speciosa, and it’s related to coffee. The tree’s leaves are harvested and processed to create the powdered supplement and extract commonly sold in the U.S. 

Some users claim kratom has far-ranging effects, including relieving pain and nausea and boosting energy. Another claimed benefit of kratom is an alternative to opioid use. Reports show that kratom activates opioid receptors, which explains why those suffering from opioid addiction swear by it to ease withdrawals.

Is Kratom Dangerous?

The report “Notes from the Field: Unintentional Drug Overdose Deaths with Kratom Detected — 27 States, July 2016–December 2017” published April 12, 2019, in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (what a name!) looks at overdose deaths that tested positive for kratom.

The results were less than conclusive. There were 27,338 overdose deaths from July 2016–December 2017 that were entered into the Statewide Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System. Of those, 152 or 0.56% of the deceased tested positive for kratom. Only seven deaths out of the 152 found exclusively kratom in their system, 65.1% of the 152 deceased kratom users were also using fentanyl. The seven deaths could not rule out other substances that just hadn’t been tested for. 

The FDA also investigated an outbreak of illnesses caused by kratom in 2017-2018, and it turned out the kratom was infected with salmonella. Considering the amount of lettuce recalls we’ve all had to deal with in recent years, it’s clear this is a sanitation and agricultural safety issue, not a kratom issue.

Finding Kratom in Seattle

If you find yourself wanting to buy some kratom locally, it won’t be hard to locate. Lots of stores sell kratom in Seattle. While finding a store you can trust is important, with supplements, it’s equally, if not more important to know what you’re buying. 

Look for kratom that has been tested in the U.S. by a third-party lab. People can fake lab certificates, so be scrupulous. If a company is transparent and upfront about its lab testing, that’s usually a good thing. Logic says companies who pay to test their kratom will want to advertise it and be glad to show you the results.

The American Kratom Association Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Standards Program verifies vendors who test their products via third-party labs annually and their site lists vendors who participate in the program. Once you know the vendors to look for, find out which local kratom sellers carry them. If you can’t find any, you can order from one of the vendors online.

So what’s the deal with kratom in Seattle? Like cannabis, it’s a plant with some potential to make humans feel better. And that’s something Seattleites love.


Image by Manuel Jebauer [CC BY-SA]