Kratom is an evergreen green plant that’s growth is indigenous to Southeast Asia, Indonesia Thailand, and Malaysia. It has been used for various medical purposes across the globe since the 19th century. It is used for the treatment of mild and chronic pain, anxiety, and depression in various countries.
Some people are taking it as an energy booster. Despite its countless benefits in the health sector, it has been penalized in different countries for its addictive properties. In this article, we will look into the detail of kratom history and its legal status in Thailand.
Kratom cultivation in Thailand:
In Thailand, kratom cultivation was in abundance. Traditionally its leaves were served as a custom to welcome their guests.
In Thailand, Kratom is cultivated in central and southern regions. As this plant grows best in wet and humus soil, therefore, it is abundantly found in marshlands and swamps regions of the country. Due to its rich soil, some of the kratom plants reach the height of 100 feet.
When kratom plants are cultivated outside of the humus and wet soil or get exposed to extremely hot or cold climates, they may experience severe leaf fall. As a result, kratom production is affected.
The legal history of kratom:
For the very first time, Thailand restricted the use of kratom in 1943. The basic reason behind this restriction was its drastic popularity. When the opium market was shut down due to the uprise in opium cost, kratom became popular among opium users. So to keep the market in check, the Thailand government has put restrictions on kratom use in 1943.
The Kratom Act was passed in 1943 from the cabinet and it was disseminated to limit the propagation of Kratom trees and the use of kratom leaves. According to this act, the planting of new Kratom trees in Thailand was illegal. At the same time, they were destroying the existing kratom trees.
Soon after its ban, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin appointed a committee to legalize kratom-based medicines. In 1979, Kratom was reclassified as a “Schedule 5 drug under the Narcotics Act B.E. 2522” (1979).
Since then kratom was controversial in Thailand. However, in some agreements such as “the 1962 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances” kratom name wasn’t mentioned in the list of the prohibited drugs.
In 2019, the government has legalized kratom production and distribution. Under new legislation law, producers were allowed to import and export kratom. However, they were obliged to have a valid license. Although, kratom use was allowed only for medical purposes and the prescription was mandatory for buyers. Still, kratom use for recreational purposes was a prohibited and punishable crime.
At the end of 2020, kratom cultivation, consumption, and use of kratom for research and experiment basis were carried under the limitations that are provided by governmental bodies. However, at the end of 2021, the approved criteria for kratom use and cultivation are expected to be published.
Penalty at illegal kratom use:
Kratom users are held responsible for kratom use at the possession of 10 kg kratom without government consent. Those who are found guilty are charged with a fine of 50,000 Baht or a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
Possession of more than 10 kg of kratom is considered to be ‘possession to sell’. Therefore penalty is much high, with a fine of 20,000 to 150,000 Baht, or is punishable by two to 15 years in prison.
However, for those who are found with more than 10 kg quantity for importing, exporting, or producing kratom, additional charges will be applied.
Here is the chart that shows official sentencing for crimes related to kratom in Thailand.
|Kratom use:||If you are found guilty of using kratom, you will be detained for up to one year and fined no more than THB 20,000. (USD 62).|
|Possession:||Possessing any type of kratom will result in a prison sentence of no more than one year and a fine not exceeding THB 20,000. (USD 617)|
|Selling, Possession for selling||Selling or possessing less than 10kg of kratom will come with a punishment of up to two years in prison and/or a THB40,000 fine. (USD 1,234); For quantities of 10 kg and above: Incarceration for no more than two years and a fine of no more than THB 200,000 (USD 6,168)|
|Production, Import, and Export||The production, import, and export of kratom are prohibited, charged with 2 years in jail and a fine of no more than 200,000 Thai Baht. (THB) (USD 6,168)|
The use of kratom law has been flexible up until a few years ago, although legislation and policy still vary depending on the region. This could be because 4×100 has become more popular in “southern Thailand”.
Across four provinces in the south of Thailand, sentencing has been distributed fairly and follows policy. There are exceptions though and these should be looked at in future periods
In Satun, a young man was arrested for boiling 4×100 based solely on the evidence of possession of a boiling pot. He had already been fined THB 15,000 (USD 463) and his motorcycle had been confiscated.
In Trang, a young man has been fined THB 150,000 (USD 4,626) for boiling tamarind in black sugar which is typically used to produce methamphetamine. The sentence is similar to those meted out for operating meth labs.
Reports from other southern provinces detail cases where kratom laws are inconsistently applied.
After being arrested for kratom-related crimes, access to drug treatment is not possible because the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act 2002 does not recognize kratom dependence as requiring treatment.
Kratom legal status in the present situation:
Kratom’s legal status in the present situation, as dated August 2021, it has been removed from the list of narcotics listed under the amended Narcotics Act. According to Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin, “the Act has been modified and the new version was published in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday (May 26) to annul the plant’s narcotics status” (thephuketnews.com).
According to the justice minister, kratom should be enlisted in the narcotics list as it is not addictive as other drugs. He said, “I will proceed with this project as soon as possible because this will truly benefit society”.
According to him “Kratom leaves do not match those characteristics. Those who use them can stop using them easily, and the leaves can be used as an herb to relieve pain, fever, dysentery, or diarrhea. Also, it is better than morphine thirteen times in killing pain.”
Although this amendment will be implemented after 24 August 2021, still kratom cultivation will be restricted until a new law to regulate kratom plantations is enacted as per the justice minister’s remarks.
Kratom law will be introduced that will presents details about kratom use and cultivation as soon as the cabinet approved the law. Any further amendment that takes place in kratom law will be published in the Royal Thai Gazette.