Thailand’s Justice minister has announced kratom will likely be taken off the national narcotics list in June this year. In a move to unlock kratom’s medical and economic benefits.
Kratom has long been used as a traditional medicine to treat pain, fever, dysentery and diarrhoea. However after it was categorized as a Type-5 narcotic in 1942, the government has prosecuted people found possessing or trading it.
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said he is pushing ahead with kratom’s reclassification in the narcotics bill. Even giving the precise date when he expects the bill to sail through parliament.
“It should be June 10,” he told a public hearing on the bill yesterday, the Bangkok Post reports.
Mr Somsak admitted he is not an expert in the technicalities of lawmaking, but as a minister, “what I can do is set a clear time frame for the enactment”.
After the public consultation process concludes next Wednesday, the bill will be forwarded to the Narcotics Control Board for consideration.
On March 3, the cabinet will be asked to approve the bill before it is fine-tuned by the government advisory body.
Parliament will be the final stage of kratom’s passage into law
“If we delay things further, it will be difficult to move ahead as it [the drug’s delisting] may affect certain people,” the minister said.
One major potential obstacle to kratom’s delisting are economic interests. Mr Somsak believes kratom-based medicines could eventually replace opiate pain medications, leading to a decrease in their importation.
Kratom was originally outlawed because the government wanted to boost tax revenue, a high portion of which came from opium.
An earlier attempt to delist the plant failed over concerns about the illicit kratom-based cocktail known as “4×100”.
According to Mr Somsak, 50,000 kratom cases were handled by police between January and October last year. The prosecution cost the government about 20,000 baht per case.
“If kratom is no longer a narcotic, we can save up to one billion baht a year,” he said.
Source: Bangkok Post