Thailand has decriminalised possession and sale of Kratom, a psychoactive plant native to Southeast Asia which is used as both stimulant and painkiller
Thailand has officially decriminalised the possession and sale of Kratom, a psychoactive native plant used by many as a mild stimulant and natural painkiller. The decision comes as Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin moved to continue the county’s development towards more compassionate drug policies, following the legalisation of medicinal and household cannabis in 2018.
In Thailand, prisons and courts have become overcrowded and unsustainable, a fact made all the more dismal by so many prisoners serving sentences for non-violent drug possession charges. With the decriminalisation of kratom, thousands of pending legal cases relating to possession or sale of the substance will be dropped, and 121 current inmates convicted in such cases will be released. Previously, simple possession of kratom was punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and up to 200,000 baht ($6,108).
With the new law, kratom has been removed from the list of controlled narcotics. Somsak proposed the move in order to reduce costs to the legal system as well as provide the country’s population with a low-cost natural painkiller, whilst creating a legal market for the cultivation of kratom. The move is expected to create jobs in the impoverished south, where the COVID-19 pandemic has left many without work.
In Thailand, kratom leaves are typically chewed to create an energy boost. When smoked, the stimulant effects are increased, with users feeling energetic, talkative, and alert. Although at high doses, kratom can have a sedative effect and displays an addictive profile when used regularly. Users of kratom should be aware of the risks involved.
In many countries including Australia, New Zealand, and many European countries, kratom is prohibited for consumption and generally scheduled similar to drugs such as heroin. In the U.S., kratom is banned in some states, however is not federally prohibited. This means kratom can be found in many smoke shops across the States, with an industry lobby promoting it’s use as a safer alternative to opioids for pain relief.