Up to five million Americans extensively use the herbal supplement kratom. It is perfectly legal in the United States and not classified as an illegal substance. This makes the herb widely available and the use of kratom in the workplace common. However, is it safe in a work environment? Can employers drug test you or fire you if you use kratom? These are all new questions because kratom hasn’t been available for that long. However, in this article, we will try to explore kratom in the workplace and answer a few of your most pressing questions.

The Herbal Supplement Kratom

Kratom is being touted as a natural supplement that battles a wide array of things such as fatigue, pain, anxiety, insomnia, and it might even improve work productivity. Many users see it as no different than enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning. In fact, many are taking kratom capsules before they start the day, lacing their smoothie with the herb, or brewing a cup of tea in place of java. Taking the herbal preparation before starting their day and using kratom in the workplace has become quite common and most people think nothing about it. However, is kratom safe in the workplace? If an employee is using kratom, can a truly safe environment be maintained? These are questions that employers are just now starting to ask.

What is Kratom?

Indonesia cashes in on Kratom amid debate over the plant's health benefits | South China Morning Post

Leaves of the Mitragynia

Many employers know absolutely nothing about kratom. Kratom is an herb obtained from an evergreen tree that grows throughout much of Southeast Asia. It has been used holistically in its native homeland for centuries. Currently, it is perfectly legal for use in the United States and widely available. You can buy kratom online, at stores, at gas stations, smoke shops, vape shops, and other locations. Users either use it as a powder, capsule or extract. Kratom is even available as a gum.

Ingredients of Kratom

The two main active ingredients found in kratom are Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. The bitter alkaloids appear to act on the brain’s opioid receptors. Once ingested it can take several minutes to take effect and the user will typically feel the effects for up to five hours or more, depending on the strain.

Impact of Kratom in the Workplace

In small amounts, kratom acts as a stimulant. It can increase energy levels substantially which is why many favor kratom in the workplace. The herb acts as the perfect pick-me-up for a lagging worker to jumpstart their day. Also, many people just don’t like the effects of caffeine found in coffee and energy drinks. Caffeine causes a racing heart, shakiness, and other problems. If you drink a cup too late in the day then you might not fall asleep at night. However, kratom causes no-problems like coffee but the user can instantly feel energized. Not to mention, kratom seems to also enhance the user’s cognitive abilities so they feel like they can mentally handle work in a more positive way.

Is an Employee Using Kratom in the Workplace?

Employers might wonder how they can tell if an employee is using kratom. Will the employees act ‘high’ as they do with marijuana? Is there a change in the employee’s eyes? Do they slur their words as if they have been drinking? These are all common questions. Without a doubt, it is hard to detect kratom in the workplace. The user’s eyes do not change, they will not slur their words or suffer from an unsteady gait. In fact, the worker will simply seem more awake and ready to tackle the day. Many would term the employee as ‘enthusiastic’ which makes it virtually impossible to tell if an employee is using kratom in the workplace

Is it Against the ‘Rules’ to Use Kratom in the Workplace?

Kratom is not a ‘drug’. It is perfectly legal to buy and use. Employers cannot discriminate and fire you if use the herb. It is no different than using any other herbal supplement. It really is no one’s business what you are taking as a supplement. However, employers might still frown on kratom use. They base their distaste of kratom on the hype and disapproval of the U.S. FDA and the DEA which have all stood against kratom even though it’s legal. In fact, several years ago, the DEA made a substantial push to make kratom illegal but the outpouring of support for the herb forced the government agency to back down and leave kratom legal for use in the U.S.

Does Kratom Show Up on a Drug Test?

Many choose kratom in place of coffee.

If kratom in the workplace is controversial then you might be concerned that your boss is going to throw a surprise drug test your way. Or maybe the company regularly drug tests its employees. If this is the case, then you are probably wondering does kratom show up on a drug test? The answer is no. You are perfectly safe if the boss gives you a standard drug test and you have been ingesting kratom.

What do the Standard Drug Tests Show?

Are you still worried about being tested for kratom in the workplace? Again, standard drug test so not test for the herb. It does not matter if they give a standard urine, hair, or blood test because they will not be looking for the alkaloids of kratom. Please remember, to detect drugs with a drug test, the test must look for specific substances or metabolites. All additional substances added to a test make the test become more and more expensive.

Commonly tested for substances include:

  • Marijuana, specifically the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol THC found in cannabis which acts as a psychoactive compound.
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamines

Larger scale drug tests such as the 10-panel drug test look for the following:

  • Ethanol
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Valium
  • Designer drugs such as spice or MDMA

Specialized Drug Tests for Kratom in the Workplace

Drug tests do not usually check for kratom

There are specialized drug tests that can detect the alkaloids of kratom. However, the fact is that an employer cannot fire you for using kratom which is perfectly legal. There is no reason for an employer to pay the added expense to drug test you with a specific kratom test when there are really no steps that they can take to curtail your kratom use.

Ultimately, a drug test for kratom in the workplace would end up a colossal waste of time and expense. Not to mention, that forcing an employee to take a kratom drug test might open the employer up to a potential legal nightmare because the employer would be infringing on the employee’s legal rights to use the herb in their downtime.

How Long Does Kratom Stay in Your Body?

Kratom can linger in the body in trace amounts for a long time after use. One study found that kratom remains in the body and detectable for up to 24 hours after use. However, tests that are looking for the alkaloids of kratom can detect the substance for up to a week after use. Urine tests look for metabolites in the body that are the chemicals that occur after your body digests and breaks down the alkaloids. A urine test that is tailored for kratom can pick up the alkaloids for seven to nine days after the last time you used the herb.

Blood tests detect all substances for only a short window of time. In the case of kratom, a blood test will pick up the alkaloids for about two to three days after use.

Please remember that the above tests for kratom are rare and expensive. Employers do not have to force you to take a kratom test because kratom is legal in the United States.

Educating Employees About Kratom

If an employer is worried about kratom use in the workplace and unsure of how to address the problem then they should carry out a little research and then call a meeting. Why not hand out pamphlets and talk about kratom in the workplace? There is no doubt that kratom does impact a user’s mental function to a degree so if they are working with machinery or driving company vehicles then an employer should certainly let the employees know why they do not want them using kratom. However, what the employee opts to do away from the job is their business. Sometimes just discussing kratom with employees is enough to bring about peace of mind. An employer can let their employees know exactly how they feel about kratom use and the employee will typically respect the employer’s feelings and rules

Many kratom users turn to herbal supplements for reputed physical benefits This is especially true if they are coping with chronic pain, anxiety, or some other problem. In many situations, if they use kratom in the workplace then it is with careful consideration and only in moderation as they would use a cup of coffee to make it through a grueling workday.

If you would like to learn more about kratom, please contact My Kratom Club.