Kava – Worldwide Legal Status

Posted by on Jul 24, 2009 in Kava News | 45 comments

Kava - Worldwide Legal StatusFor an in-depth look at the true cause of the temporary worldwide Kava ban in the early 2000’s, refer to my eZine Articles story entitled; “What is the Legal Status of Kava?“.



Kava is legal to possess & sell in Australia, but it is illegal to import into Australia without a license, since it’s listed as a “Schedule IV” in the AU Import Regulations which outline all of the import laws. Below is a comment about Australian Kava Law, by Torsten of Shaman Australis, from October of 2001, in which he clarifies what the law is:

“It was once given to Aborigines to help get them off alcohol. Some liked it a little too much and started getting health problems from it, so it was scheduled as a drug. We don’t have different levels of scheduling like the US, but we have provisions for licenses for any drug. It is very easy to get a kava license. The government just wants to be able to track volumes and trading sources. It is completely illegal in one state. Due to our multicultural make-up there are special provisions that you are allowed to carry 3 months supply on your person into the country. It is also freely available in Islander and Fiji shops. No problem getting it really, it’s just the wholesale is a bit dodgy.”

Unfortunately, we often have difficulty getting our kava through to customers in Australia. If you are considering ordering kava to Australia, please be aware that there is a good chance that you will not receive your package and that you place an order at your own risk.

Britain/United Kingdom/U.K.


We regularly ship Kava to the U.K., with about a 98% success rate.  Shipping costs are higher than anywhere else in the world, though.  On the technical side: Britain has banned the sale of medicines that contain kava extracts, but the importation of it by individuals as an herbal supplement is still reportedly legal or at least accepted. So, it seems that at least plain root powder is still legal for sale, but it’s unclear what the actual law is in relation to this. See: Reuters, Dec 2002.

It also appears that kava is banned for import or sale for the purpose of ingestion (internal use): Statutory Instrument 2002 No.3170 : The Medicines for Human Use (Kava-kava) (prohibition) Order 2002 :The Stationery Office Ltd , UK Government E1856 12/02. Kava Ban Update



Health Canada, issued a stop order forbidding kava products sold for human consumption in Canada in August, 2002, but Kona Kava Farm has received EXPLICIT PERMISSION from Health Canada to export Kava Kava to Canada, as long as it’s to individuals who are using it for personal consumption, and NOT to any businesses. This is VERY exciting news for us, and as long as you’re not a business, we are happy to send our entire line of products to our friends in chilly Canada from sunny Hawaii!

As of this ruling, all products containing kava including drinks, supplements, etc have been banned by Health Canada, but there is no specific law outlawing kava herbal supplements in Canada. More in our “KAVA (NOT) BANNED IN CANADA” article.

Also, in January of 2004, new natural health product regulations came into effect under the auspices of the Natural Health Products Directorate of Health Canada. Kava could then return to the market, provided the safety concerns can be mitigated through appropriate use of warning labels or other measures.

We’ve sold plain kava root to customers in Canada and have rarely had problems.



Kava supplements and products have reportedly been banned for sale, but we cannot find any supporting proof or evidence in relation to this, and have never had a problem shipping Kava to France. Reportedly, Piper methysticum is still available from herbalists, which is exactly the same thing as Kava.



Germany lifted it’s ban on Kava in early 2014.  The problem is, many Customs Agents in Germany do not yet realize that, and still sometimes stop Kava shipments legally going into Germany.  Germany is where the original Kava ban that sparked worldwide banning of Kava originated. As Kava started to hit the mainstream in the early 2000’s, there was not enough supply to fill the demand, and shady growers and possibly unknowing suppliers who bought kava from those growers, started manufacturing Kava using the leaves and peelings of the plant…the parts that were always thrown away, and now, with recent research; the parts that are poisonous. If you want to learn about the Kava scare in detail, please read my article published on eZineArticles entitled; “What is the Legal Status of Kava?” for more.

There has been much speculation that pharmaceutical companies were behind the “kava causes liver damage” propaganda in order to gain back the sales of Prozac. More and more doctors were successfully prescribing kava instead of dangerous and addicting drugs, and without question, the pharmaceutical companies were taking notice. Kava was so effective for treating anxiety that it was actually prescribed more than Prozac, especially for children.

After it was discovered that the findings were false, that liver toxicity happens from kava only when the widely-known poisonous leaves are used instead of the extremely safe roots, Germany moved to lift its ban in 2007 after almost everyone else in the world did.

Since then, we’ve been shipping a LARGE amount of kava orders to Germany without any trouble since.

~~~~~~~~~~  ~~~  ~~~~~~~~~~



Irish health food and supplement vendors voluntarily withdrew kava kava from their shelves in 2002 on the recommendation of the Irish Medicines Board (IMB). However, the sources we found all agree that the IMB does not prevent individuals from importing kava into Ireland for personal use.


I have been unable to find any reliable information about the legal status of kava in Italy, but I can tell you that we have had a difficult time getting kava through to customers in Italy recently. We will ship kava to Italy, but please be aware that you place orders at your own risk and that there is nothing we can do if your order is seized by customs.


VISITOR SUBMITTED: Kava isn’t banned by the government since 2002, but has been strictly administrated in trading. What this means is that it’s not illegal to buy and sell Kava, it’s just very restricted.  The laws governing Kava in Japan sound a lot like the laws governing Kava in Canada.

New Zealand

Kava-containing supplements are sold throughout New Zealand, and we have also shipped to New Zealand without a single order being sent back to us. We’re still waiting for more information.


Kava supplements and products are not specifically controlled in Norway, but we have been told that the national health council considers it a prescription drug (available only from a pharmacy) based on its use as a calming agent. This is yet another case where the legal status of Kava is unclear. Sometimes when we ship Kava to Norway (and Finland) it gets stopped, and other times it gets through without any problems.


As far as we could ascertain, Poland is the only country in the EU with an outright ban on kava. According to European Commission spokesman Matthew Newman, it is illegal to import, sell, grow, consume, or even possess kava kava in Poland! You can learn more here: Europe Explains Its Stand on Kava from the Pacific.

South Africa

South Africa banned the sale or importation of kava in 2002, at the same time the EU instituted its kava ban. The EU later retracted its ban in 2006 after  new evidence revealed that kava is safe for the liver when prepared and used appropriately, but South Africa never followed suit.

The Facebook group Kava Kava South Africa has launched a petition to the South African Medicines Control Council (MCC) to legalize kava so that South Africans may access its benefits. You can sign the petition on their page: Kava Kava South Africa.


We have received conflicting reports about whether kava is available in Sweden. Some say that kava supplements and products banned for sale, while others say it is commonly available.


Kava is legal in Switzerland, but a pharmaceutical product called “Laitan”, which is a Kavalactone product that is sold in pharmacies across Europe, has been banned for sale in Switzerland.

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  1. Rolland,

    Thanks for checking out our website, we work hard to share our experience with the kava drinking world! If you are a kava seller, we’d be happy to discuss your products. You can email us at [email protected] and we’d love to talk kava with you!

    Kona Kava Farm Team

  2. you are well organise! Thanks

    I’ m from Vanuatu and we want to know if we can deal our powder kava to US?
    Also we are looking for buyers can you help us?

  3. James,

    Kava is legal throughout the United States, and in most places in the world now! So, California to New York; enjoy this potent and pleasurable dietary supplement safely.


  4. Thanks for the clarification; we will update our post to reflect this new information! Send an email to kavashop at konakavafarm dot com, and I will send you a sample of some of our best Kava!

  5. Kava’s regulation in Japan
    I see somebody has wrote wrong information here that Japanese government banned kava in 2002. However, it’s not banned by the government since 2002, but has been strictly administrated in trading. Though, it seems that it’s not illegal to buy and sell it, so I’d like to say it’s legal.

    So, aloha Japan!

  6. In Rancho Cordova a suburb of Sacramento there is a Kava Kava Night Club which operates legally licensed and all. So there probably is no law about Kava Kava in California…?


  7. Jessi,

    Good question. Yes, Kava is completely legal to grow in the USA and in most of the world. Getting your hands on plants is a little more difficult, as is the patience required to grow Kava, but it’s possible. Remember that it takes several years to get quality root stock, and there’s no instant gratification because unlike other herbs that you can break off leaves and stems, you can’t with the Kava plant as those are the poisonous parts.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

    Aloha no,

  8. Is it legal to grow kava in the U.S?
    I am going for my holistic health practice, and herbal remedies is my staple. I know consumption is legal as I take it myself.

  9. Aloha Kiryu!

    I believe the Japanese government banned kava in 2002. I haven’t heard of any changes in that yet. I recommend calling or e-mailing Japanese Customs and asking them. 🙂

    Aloha no,

  10. Hi,
    Can you tell me if Kava is legal in Japan?

  11. Aloha Michael!

    As far as we know, kava is legal in Taiwan. However, to be on the safe side, we recommend that you contact your local customs office before placing your first order. 🙂

    Aloha no,

  12. Is kava legal in Taiwan?

  13. Mike,

    I wish I had a Kava bowl for every time a person asked us that very question for their particular country! If you look to the first answer we offered to Mr. Stern on this very “Kava – Worldwide Legal Status“ post, it should cover your question as well. We state that “The best thing to do is to contact customs directly and ask them how much kava you are permitted to bring in to the country. Unfortunately, international customs are rarely straightforward and it can be tricky for us to figure out what’s going on from overseas. I hope everything gets sorted out and you are able to continue enjoying kava!”

    If you happen to find that amount out, please do share it with us and we’ll post it in the most relevant section.

    Aloha no,

  14. Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I have repeatedly ordered kava capsules with you. There have been no problems. Now, with the last shipment I received a letter from the customs office. I ordered three packs. These are now at the customs office. Do you know if and how much may I introduce to Germany for private use?

    Best regards
    B. Stern

  15. Dear Silvia,

    As far as I know, kava is not regulated in South America. We have not explored the market extensively, but I’m sure that the people there would benefit greatly from this medicine!

    Aloha no,

  16. Hi there

    Just wondering if you know kava’s legal status in Brazil. Is kava exported to south america at all? This could be a very good market to explore, I am very interested. Regards, Silvia.

  17. Dear ASD,

    Do you mean that you need a doctor’s prescription? Hmmm…well, better than making it illegal, I suppose. I wonder when governments will begin to trust people to choose what medicines they want to use.

    Aloha no,

  18. It is kinda crazy that kava is not legal in finland, it kinda isnt illegal but we need a recipe which is very hard to get xD

  19. In Poland possession of kava-kava in any form (plant, seeds, extracts) is illegal since may 2009.

  20. That’s a very good question, and not surprisingly, the government or the FDA doesn’t make it easy to find detailed information on Kava Kava. Plain and simple, even though it’s the tiniest sliver of a threat to the vast pharmaceutical industry, it’s enough to have them want to see Kava quietly go away. So, now that Kava actually has some protection under the FDA, sources to find it’s exact legal status are even more difficult to find. But, since we’re an FDA-registered company, we have to follow the strict guidelines set up by them, and besides our direct contact with a compliance officer, one of the only places even we look to official information on herbal supplements is the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Their article on Kava is HERE. Hope this helps! Aloha no, Makaira

  21. where or how can i find a government publication stating kava’s legal status within the united states.

  22. Zach,

    We’re so glad to hear that you’ve experienced no issues when ordering Kava from Canada! We ship to Canada almost daily, and any packages getting stopped by Customs is quite rare for us as well. It’s still strange to us that it cannot be sold in stores in Canada, but it’s completely legal to import for personal consumption (we’re thrilled about the fact that we can share Kava with our Canadian neighbors, though!). We actually thought that Kava had started to appear back on store shelves, but you would know best since you’re actually in Canada!

    Aloha no,

  23. Hello, I stumbled across your website today and found it very informative. I live in Canada where it is now illegal to sell Kava Kava within the Country. I have been ordering Kava Kava Caplets online now for about 2 years. I suffer from anxiety and rather than start taking prescription medication I searched online and found Kava Kava and have been using it almost daily since with no health problems. You are correct it is perfectly legal in Canada for personal use but you still can not buy it here. Like you said though, I have also never had a package stopped at the border.

  24. You simply need to start small and work your way up the “chain of command” in whatever part of Australia you happen to reside in. In the United States, there are local Aldermen who are highly accessible and have direct contact with local lawmakers, we can send letters (and now e-mails) to our Congresspeople, and there a number of resources for finding others who have the same desires as you, including resources on how to start a petition locally and online that, depending on the number of signatures, will have to be reviewed by a government official of some sort.

    I wish I had something more specific, but I’m only familiar with the legal battle we had here in Hawaii (and the United States) for a while. Usually, it only takes a little research…government officials who want to please their constituency are far more accessible than they’ve ever been. Hope this helps!

    Aloha no, Makaira

  25. Hi
    I have used kava in tablet form on & off for years.
    It helps anxiety & has been wonderful for treating my high blood pressure, my sleep has improved out of sight since I started taking it again & from the first tablet.
    I am disapointed by the Australian import laws making it illegal to import in non tablet form as I would rather consume it in a more natural way.
    Do you have any idea where “we” could start to have laws changed, or do you know of a group that I could become involved in to help change the laws?
    Regards Bron. Qld. Australia.

  26. We’ve had so many problems with the Australian government and Kava (or any imports for that matter), and we’ve unfortunately given up. We’ve had so many shipments stopped and sent back that we don’t ship anything to Australia anymore. The Canadian Health Ministry was extremely approachable and gave us explicit permission, but the Australian government wouldn’t budge on Kava. It seems it’s up to the Kava lovers of Australia to unite and change the rules for importing Kava for personal consumption! Laws can be changed, especially when it comes to individual rights and importing products for personal consumption.

    Keep us posted; the secnd we hear that Kava is legal in Australia, we’ll resume shipping there immediately!

    Aloha no, Makaira

  27. Aloha Makaira,

    Do you have any plans to get explicit permission from the Australian Government to send Kava there?

    It would make my year if I could get my hands on some kava again.


  28. Funny you should ask, Jack; we happen to sell what we feel is the most potent kava root this side of Oceania or anywhere! Weve got everything from freshly-powdered kava root to extracts, capsules, and pastes. We’ve even got some Kava Chai; truly a unique taste that will suit even the most discerning of palettes. Just go to our shop at http://www.KonaKavaFarm.com (connected to this blog), and find a wealth of products that we ship worldwide, including Canada and Germany on a daily basis. Hope this helps! Aloha no, Makaira

  29. I was wondering where it would be possible to buy kava, i have not tried it before but would really like to. Do drug stores carry it, or maybe Stop and Shop?


  30. Gabriel! You “scooped” us on this story. We’ve been watching closely for some time (we have many friends in Fiji ad have posted several articles about the ban), but you managed to post the news ahead of us, so Mahalo to you! (If you happen to read this reply, send us your address, and we’ll send off an 8 ounce package of our Organic Kava Root just, well, just because!)

    We all know that Kava has been proven, time and time again (not counting the 3,000 years of safe use by all the peoples of Oceania and elsewhere in the world) to be a safe, effective panacea…whether it’s a cure for a for stressful day, help with some back problems that have been troubling you, or even, in small doses, as a cure for insomnia. (Oops…the U.S. government has imposed some rather strict rules on what we’re legally allowed to say in relation to Kava, so we have to say this before we say anything else: “Kava Kava is not intended to diagnose or cure any disease.”)

    Back to the point: We couldn’t be more thrilled that the ban on Kava has been lifted from the USA, Germany, Canada (if imported for personal consumption), and now…Europe! We’ve been excited for many generations now to share our family-grown organic Kava with as many as possible, but now even more will get to learn about this safe, effective, and wonderful plant. So, let’s raise our coconut cups to all those who helped make the lifting of the ban on Kava possible. Aloha no, Makaira

  31. Europe lifted the ban on Kava!

  32. I am a new convert of Kava.I went to the health food store to day to find something to ease the need for alcolhol or other scoial products. After a complete explanation by the store clerk, I purchased two small sample packages, one Vanautu and Fiji and first placed an amount under my tongue. The immediate numbing sensation was an indicator that I had purchased wisely. Thanks for your web site.

  33. This story about big pharmaceuticals blocking access to better medicines that the ones they produce is revolting… what can we do to overturned this revolting banning going on in UK? It just beggars believe… the awful poisons they try to give us as alternative to this wonder plants, like benzos or antidepressives, so toxic and addictive… I bet you that the bosses from those companies have Kava Kava everyday, ’cause they know.

  34. Dully,

    Hawaii is part of the United States, and we wouldn’t be in business for very long if Kava were banned and/or illegal in the USA, so the short answer: We can ship Kava anywhere in the United States and we can ship as much kava root (or any kava product) as we wish. We can actually ship kava almost anywhere in the world including, as explained above; Canada. Hope this helps! – Aloha no, Makaira

  35. Just need some clarification on the legal status of kava in the US….i mean is it possible to ship large amount (i.e. 40 kg or 100 kg) to the US?

    thanks and hav a great day

  36. Kava is best kept in the fridge, especially when you’ve got anything other than the dried herb. But, the most important thing for helping to extend kava’s shelf life is to simply keep it airtight. Kava loves moisture! Kava in an airtight container sitting on a shelf will last longer than unsealed Kava kept in a fridge. Aloha no, Makaira

  37. How should Kava Kava be stored? In a refridgerator or in a cabinet?

    Thanks. Not sure where to keep it.


  38. Honestly, we are only familiar with our own products, so I don’t know anything about the product you mention above. Something to consider is that now that Kava is becoming more and more popular, there are a larger and larger number of unscrupulous companies who want to take advantage of the unsuspecting consumer. Also, remember that Kava isn’t for everyone.

    That being said, when you have REAL KAVA, it is easy to know how potent it is: Simply place a small amount of it on your tongue. It can be a capsule, an instant drink, paste, or powdered root. Within seconds, your tongue should feel a numbness coming on! – That lets you know that it’s REAL KAVA and that it’s actually working.

    If you don’t feel anything when you place Kava on your tongue, I would return the product (even if it’s to us!) immediately. If you DO feel that numbing effect when you place a small amount of Kava on your tongue, then you know the Kava is working, and you should feel the effects within 30 minutes or so. If you don’t, then Kava may not be for you.

    Often, folks except to be knocked off their feet when experiencing herbal supplements such as Kava, but Kava can often be more sublte than that. The effects are FAR from “placebo”, but it may take some time to recognize, understand, and appreciate the effects that Kava has on the human body. If you’re skeptical, jkust know this: Kava has been used for thousands of years, and is used daily by countless people in many parts of the world. If it were a “scam” or had no effects, entire cultures wouldn’t revolve around this amazing plant as mayn do.

    Hope this helps! Aloha no, Makaira

  39. Hi,

    I have been using Thompson Kava Capsules for 4 days now and i see no effect. First 2 days i took one capsule. Which is 2400mg and 60mg Kavalactone each. On the fourth and third i have take three a day but i still fill no change.

    How long does it take to feel relaxed or less stressed?
    And am i taking the correct amount?

    Kind Regards,
    Antonios, Sydney Australia

  40. Clint –

    Again, if you read the above article regarding Kava and Canada, you will see all of the information we have, including the EXPLICIT PERMISSION from Health Canada to export Kava Kava to Canada that we received as long as it’s for personal consumption, as well as the article regarding how Kava is actually LEGAL IN CANADA.

    We do not offer refunds if a package is stopped at the border, but we’ve also never had a package stopped at the border. You can arm yourself with the relevant information above, and make a phone call to the proper authorities if your package ever does get stopped. Aloha no, Makaira

  41. I am very interested in kava kava, but I live in canada and all the health food stores here don’t have it and say its still illegal. How can I get ur product? All the articals I’ve read date back to 2002 is this ban still in effect? If I order from you guys and it gets stopped at the border will I still be charged? Please get back to me asap as I have chronic pain, and trouble sleeping.(I’m taking percoset for pain, and want an alternative to help me relax and sleep) thanks

  42. It’s important to take several key factors into consideration when putting any stock in these extremely rare studies that sometimes appear in relation to Kava. Always remember that Kava use has a far safer track record than any other drink that has been consumed; from soda to milk, to alcohol, and countless others. Kava is actually the only drink that has such an incredible track record that after 3,000 years of use and literally billions of drinks consumed, only 2 verified cases of serious illness have been reported. Compare that to the 50,000 cases related to alcohol consumption

    That being said, let’s examine a few points:

    1. In it’s 3,000 years of use throughout Oceania, a single alkaloid has never been isolated and then directly injected into liver tissue in large doses. Taking only one of the more than 20 alkaloids from the Kava plant (kavain) is not a fair test, especially in the way the test was conducted. Kava has traditionally been made into a drink that uses a full spectrum of alkaloids from the Kava plant, some of which have been shown to actually protect the liver.

    2. They make extreme claims without providing any solid evidence. To say that “the kavain treatment disturbed the basic structure of the liver, seriously impacting the normal functioning of the liver” provides no specifics on how exactly it negatively impacted the liver. How exactly was the functioning impacted? Liver functioning is “seriously impacted” by something as common in many of our lives such as caffeine, but no one’s calling for a worldwide ban on caffeine (or any of the other drinks that have harmed many thousands of people who’ve consumed them). The United States reports 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning each year alone!

    3. We’ve been told that the Dean also has a reputation for doing his best, and some feel, unfairly, in picking and choosing statistics from his own and other studies about Kava to suit a very specific agenda he seems to have. It would be interesting to see exactly who backs them; one often only needs to follow the money to know why results may appear so skewed that it’s impossible to find where the truth lies.

    Alcohol is known to be extremely toxic to the liver, and even in the few rare studies that show there is a possibility that very specific styles of ingestion of kava kava, every one of those studies shows that kava kava is far less damaging to the liver than alcohol, if it is damaging at all. We trust the FDA and their findings, and they are known to err on the safe side more often than not, so until the FDA issues a new ruling, we will continue to offer our kava products with the utmost confidence that 3,000 years of a sacred family tradition, with many of us living to 100 years or more, is doing us more harm than good as it enriches our daily lives in ways we could never explain. Aloha no, Makaira

  43. Hello,
    Any comments on the study done by Dean of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney? He claims to have proven Kava is hepatoxic. I am just looking into trying kava out and this study scares me. Of course there is no info on the testing methods used or who funded the study.

  44. The shelf life for Kava Kava is about 2 years, no matter how carefully it’s packaged. Kavalactone is a delicate part of the plant, and breaks down over time. So, if it was really fresh when you purchased it, it’s nearing the end of its life, but if it was sitting around for a few months before you purchased it, it might not be good anymore. If it was kept dry, it should also be fine for consumption, but please don’t quote me on that. Kava Kava keeps relatively well, but moisture is one of its worst enemies, and it soaks it up like a sponge. Even a small air leak over 1-2 years can add up to ruined kava roots. Aloha no, Makaira

  45. hey there…. I have about a kilo of kava that I picked up at the Suva market in Fiji in November 2006. It has been stored in relatively air tight packaging…. do you think it would still be okay to consume?


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