Millions of people worldwide turn to kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) for its coveted bodily and sometimes psychoactive effects, typically including feelings of increased energy at lower doses or sedation and relaxation at higher doses.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the legality of kratom in California, where you can buy it, and the different strains available.
We’ll also explore how to use it to improve focus and sleep, reduce pain, and achieve other desired effects.
Is Kratom Legal in California?
These two cities enacted a ban on the substance in 2016, and it’s illegal to sell or purchase kratom within these cities. However, outside of San Diego and Oceanside, kratom remains entirely legal throughout California.
The ordinance that prohibits kratom within these two cities grouped the substance with bath salts, certain spices, and other novelty and synthetic drugs, making them illegal within city limits. This regulation comes from a place of ignorance on the safety and usefulness of kratom rather than hard science.
Where to Buy Kratom in California
As long as you’re located outside of San Diego and Oceanside, you can legally purchase and use kratom from retail shops or online.
You’ll have two main options for buying kratom products: purchasing online and buying in brick-and-mortar shops.
We’ll get into some of the benefits of each option below, but most users report that products from online retailers are more reliable and potent.
1. Buying Kratom Online
When you purchase kratom products online, you’re most likely buying directly from or closer to the source. Online retailers don’t generally go through supply chains to get products, so you’ll be passing through fewer intermediaries to get your product. For you, this typically means lower costs for your kratom.
Online kratom retailers tend to offer a better selection as physical shop owners have to worry about shelf space. When you buy from a reputable online retailer, you can often find teas, powders, smokable products, and other products that allow for various kratom consumption methods.
Many kratom users want their product quickly, so opting to purchase in person is often appealing. However, vendors like Star Kratom have rapid delivery to get your purchases to you in no time at all. In many cases, your order arrives within 1-2 business days.
Most importantly, online retailers often have test results for each product, which means the kratom you buy online is far more likely to be pure and potent. Vendors like Kona Kratom and the premium kratom vendor, VIP Kratom, put products through rigorous testing to ensure your products are safe and pure.
2. Buying Kratom In-Store
Purchasing kratom from a physical store guarantees that you’ll get your product immediately. No matter how quickly a company with prompt shipping like Star Kratom sends out its product, it will never get to you instantly. This is where physical shops excel. You’ll never need to wait for the company to pack and ship your kratom — you simply pick it up and can start using it immediately.
However, most users end up paying more for kratom products from physical shops. Vendors in California act as intermediaries, often re-packaging or white-labeling products for resale. In the end, the added “commission” they earn is charged to you, so you end up paying more for your kratom than if you purchased online.
Even worse, you’re more than likely paying more for a product of lower quality and potency. Many local shops fail to carry out the extensive testing that online competitors do, so you’re less likely to be 100% confident in what you’re purchasing from them.
Still, countless Californians search “kratom near me” daily, looking for local shops that sell kratom. Many shops throughout the Golden State sell kratom products.
Here are some of the more popular locations from which locals purchase the substance:
Cali Botanicals Kratom
Cali Botanicals, located in Rancho Cordova, CA, has an online store as well. Its products don’t receive extensive testing, but the customer service is excellent.
Bumble Bee Botanicals
Bumble Bee Botanicals has numerous locations, including stores in San Diego and San Francisco. It’s important to note that the San Diego location does not sell kratom products.
Up In Smoke Smoke Shop
Up In Smoke has two locations, one in Newport Beach and one in Costa Mesa. Both sites provide kratom products, although the testing isn’t as extensive as that from online retailers.
Los Feliz Smoke Shop
Los Feliz Smoke Shop is located conveniently in Los Angeles. The customer service is excellent, although products tend to receive less testing and certification than online vendors.
Purple Haze Smoke Shop
Purple Haze has three locations: Chatsworth, Hermosa Beach, and Northridge. It sells a variety of products, including smokable and ingestible kratom.
Wicked Spot Smoke Shop
Wicked Spot, located in Northern Los Angeles, about two miles north of the Museum of Art, sells CBD, THC, tobacco, and, of course, kratom products.
What To Look For When Buying Kratom
Whether you choose to purchase kratom in-store or you opt for an online retailer, there are several things you’ll want to look out for.
The most significant factors include the strain you choose, the company’s reputation, and the certification (if any) of the kratom you select. Keeping the below factors in mind when shopping will ensure you have a positive and safe experience with kratom every single time.
A) Strain Selection
There are three primary strains of kratom to choose from when: red-vein, green-vein, and white-vein kratom. Most users can’t tell the difference in the taste or texture, but the effects vary quite a bit.
Choosing the right strain is imperative for obtaining the ideal experience.
White-vein kratom is what most users take in small doses — between 2 and 6g of dried kratom powder for most users — for an energizing experience. Most individuals report feeling more stimulated after taking white-vein kratom, with increased concentration, focus, and memory. Because of that, white vein kratom is often a good option for morning or mid-day.
Most users of red-vein kratom report feeling the opposite of white-vein-kratom users. Red-vein kratom supposedly delivers a more calming effect that can sedate the user, reduce pain levels, and improve sleep. Red-vein kratom is reportedly better to consume at night just before bed or after your workday is done to relieve stress and reduce pain.
Lastly, most users note that green-vein kratom produces an effect that mimics both white-vein and red-vein kratom. It creates a physically relaxing but mentally stimulating effect, according to proponents of green-vein kratom. Many users opt for green-vein strains knowing that regardless of the time of day, they don’t have to worry about the effects.
B) Look For AKA Certification
The second thing you’ll want to look for when buying kratom online or in stores is AKA certification. AKA stands for the American Kratom Association — a group of kratom supporters who audit manufacturers of kratom products to ensure the purity and potency are within their strict limits.
Essentially, any company with AKA certification is far more likely to sell you a pure and clean kratom product without unwanted or dangerous chemicals or additives.
The AKA is doing wonders for the kratom community because it’s currently the only reputable certification program for kratom. If you purchase from an AKA-certified manufacturer, you can, at the very least, be more confident that what you’re getting is safe and potent.
Unfortunately, we strongly recommend against buying from any vendor, manufacturer, or producer that isn’t AKA-certified. Kratom is still largely unregulated, so many users have nothing but AKA certification to turn to in order to be confident in their purchases.
There are many untested and unregulated kratom products available, so always purchase one with the AKA certification.
C) Company Reputation
Finally, as with any product, it’s crucial to buy from a reputable company that has a long-standing track record of providing quality products. As kratom gains popularity, countless fake companies, and scammers attempt to capitalize on the increased demand by selling impure or even dangerous products.
Unfortunately, some individuals add synthetic drugs to their kratom products to increase the potency and become more addictive. This is not only immoral but potentially dangerous to your health. In fact, according to extensive research on the substance, buying illegitimate or impure kratom is one of the very few ways the drug can be dangerous to users.
We strongly recommend you always purchase your kratom from a reputable company that has been serving the community for years. Never buy kratom secondhand or from unregistered vendors.
Before committing to a vendor, search for the company name online, or check out our in-depth vendor reviews to see the truth behind their products.
What Are People Using Kratom For?
After all this talk about where to buy kratom and the different strains available, you may be wondering what kratom users use the substance for. There’s a wide variety of uses for kratom, but the four most significant and widespread benefits are listed and discussed below.
Kratom is likened to a “safe opiate” by some users because of its pain-killing capabilities, and generally speaking, pain is the number-one treason people try the substance.
Kratom interacts with opioid receptors in your brain, much like more powerful prescription pain pills would. The result for many users is a dulled pain, increasing the ability to deal with it and move on with the daily routine.
In addition to this physiological effect, the research available also notes that it relaxes muscles and reduces inflammation, both of which can help reduce pain naturally.
Anxiety & Depression
Two other common ailments kratom can help with are anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, the medicines used to treat these are often addictive and potentially dangerous, even when using the recommended doses. Thankfully, there’s no research showing kratom is deadly or shares the adverse effects of the medications used to treat anxiety and depression.
Kratom supposedly helps by interacting with opioid receptors and reportedly calms the mind, and limits anxious thoughts and feelings.
There is little clinical research to support these effects, but users provide anecdotal evidence that kratom — particularly green and white-vein strains — reduce anxiety and feelings of depression.
Energy & Focus
Countless kratom supporters report that using kratom increases energy levels, focus, and concentration. Whether they use the substance to improve their performance at work or in other areas, the reported stimulating effects are anecdotally supported.
According to the limited research available, kratom interacts with the secretion of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine, all of which have a significant impact on how awake and stimulated we feel. The changes in the levels of these neurotransmitters are likely why white-vein kratom, in particular, makes users feel more awake, energized, and focused.
Related: Best kratom for energy & focus.
Some individuals turn to kratom for help moving away from opioids. Many people use prescription opioids like oxycodone, morphine, and hydrocodone for pain relief, but these are known to be highly addictive.
At least anecdotally, kratom can help those dependent on opioids in two primary ways. First, the pain-killing effects of kratom seem to be similar to those of strong, addictive pain killers — therefore reducing the pain prompting the use of medication. Additionally, some people report feelings of euphoria when taking kratom, helping addicts wean off the opiates they take.
Is Kratom Safe?
As with other substances, kratom is safe if you use it responsibly.
Starting in low doses (between 2 and 4 g of powdered kratom) is generally recommended, as is staying below 10-12g total per dose at all times. This amount is likely to deliver the desired effects without creating a strong dependency or sickness that comes from overly large quantities.
We suggest limiting your usage to 4-5 days per week and implementing “tolerance breaks” if you ever notice you aren’t getting the effects you previously experienced.
Kratom is well-known to be less addictive than prescription painkillers and creates a far weaker dependency than most class-A drugs. However, there is always a risk of side effects, no matter what substance you consume.
Side Effects of Kratom
In general, most users report feeling side effects of kratom when doses are too large or when they develop a dependency on kratom, which typically happens if the user takes it every day for long periods without taking breaks. With that said, some side effects are possible even from a first dose, so be mindful and adjust the amount or take a break if you feel any of these side effects.
Some users report feeling nauseous after taking a dose of kratom. Nausea may result in vomiting, but both symptoms are more common with excessive amounts rather than appropriate ones.
Lack of Energy
Experts believe that taking kratom every day for extended periods may lead to adrenal fatigue, something that happens when your adrenal gland is stimulated by a drug so much so that it starts to compensate by limiting its secretions. Avoid extended use without breaks or using the same strain repeatedly.
Some people note uncomfortable feelings of dizziness when using kratom. This may be due to slight changes in blood pressure and happens more with large doses.
Kratom users occasionally report feeling as if their memory is impaired or their thought process is slow. Again, this is typically associated with a hefty dose.
Kratom influences the secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are linked directly to feelings of anxiousness. You may experience some anxiety with larger doses, but it’s typically rare in small or moderate amounts.
Other Side Effects
Several other side effects are anecdotally linked to long-term kratom use, including kidney and liver impairment and changes in hormone levels. However, there’s no data to back this, and more research is needed to confirm a link.
It’s important to note that additional unwanted effects can appear if you take kratom alongside alcohol, drugs, or medications.
You should also avoid using kratom for any reason if you’re pregnant.
What’s The Future of Kratom in California?
Currently, kratom is entirely legal throughout the state of California, except for San Diego and Oceanside.
Kratom remains legal throughout most of the United States, and California is one of the most lenient states as far as controlled substances go — let’s not forget they were the first state to legalize medical marijuana in the 1990s. The state probably won’t ban kratom in the future. If anything, we’d expect San Diego and Oceanside to legalize it.
If you’re looking to try kratom and enjoy the numerous benefits countless users report experiencing, your best option is likely to purchase online.