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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


The federal Food and Drug Administration has not approved the herbal substance kratom for any medical or dietary use.

Kratom is an extract from a tree native to Southeast Asia whose leaves contain chemicals with mind-altering effects, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

A 2021 survey by the agency found that in the previous 12 months, 1.7 million people in the U.S. used kratom, which comes in leaves, powders and pills.

Many say they use it to fight opioid addiction, or to fight mental or physical pain.

The FDA says kratom carries a risk for liver toxicity, seizures and addiction, but that it would support kratom research.

Kratom is legally sold throughout much of the U.S., but it is a crime to possess or deliver in Wisconsin.

A bill introduced Sept. 5, 2023, would decriminalize kratom in Wisconsin. It was referred to an Assembly committee.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Food and Drug Administration: FDA and Kratom

U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Kratom | National Institute on Drug Abuse

New York Times: What You Should Know About the Potential Risks of Kratom

Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association: Kratom: Summary of State Laws

Wisconsin State Legislature: Wisconsin Legislature: AB393: Bill Text

Wisconsin State Legislature: 2023 Assembly Bill 393

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for Milwaukee Magazine and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.