Thailand’s lawmakers have taken one step closer to legalizing Kratom with proposed legislation that would remove kratom from the narcotics list, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) said on Tuesday.
The Council of State, the government’s legal arm, finished examining the amendment to the Narcotics Act last Wednesday. It will send back to the cabinet for endorsement before it is forwarded to parliament, ONCB secretary-general, Niyom Termsrisuk, said.
The cabinet approved in principle to remove kratom from the drugs list in March.
Mr Niyom warned the public that the plant is still on the narcotics list at present. Which means possessing and using it is still illegal. The warning came in response to a recent surge in drug cases involving kratom.
Kratom use on the rise
The number of cases logged by the ONCB’s operations centre rose sharply by 46% between April and June. Which suggested many people believe the plant had already been delisted, Mr Niyom said.
While the process to do so continues, the ONCB is currently working with the Interior and Public Health ministries, and a number of villages and communities in preparing for a pilot project in which kratom will be grown for medical and research purposes, he told the Bangkok Post.
A total of 135 villages and communities in 10 provinces have been selected for this program, he said.
To allow this pilot program to be implemented legally, a set of ministerial regulations has already been drafted. They will be subjected to public hearings in one or two weeks from now, he said.
The Public Health Ministry and the Food and Drug Administration will organize the hearings. The opinions gathered will be forwarded along with the regulations to the cabinet for approval, he said.
About Kratom in Thailand
The tropical deciduous tree Kratom may be native to Thailand but it is still illegal to use it in the country. Traditionally chewed by people in Thailand, especially in the South. In the past kratom has been seen has part of the culture.
The Kratom Act, passed in 1943, makes planting the kratom tree in Thailand illegal while existing trees can be cut down. Many of the poorer classes in southern Thailand have continued to pick and use the leaves in southern provinces.
Kratom leaves may be sold illegally to other parts of Thailand but a majority of workers use Kratom for health and their own personal use.
In 1979 kratom was included in the Thai Narcotics Act along with cannabis and mushrooms.