Personal use of kratom trialled in 10 provinces

Personal use of kratom trialled in 10 provinces

A total of 135 villages and 25 communities in 10 provinces, including Pathum Thani and Nonthanburi, have been selected for a pilot scheme in which kratom is allowed for personal consumption.

All provincial governors were informed of the limited easing of the legal prohibition on kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) in a Sept 9 letter sent by the Interior Ministry's administration centre for narcotics suppression and prevention.

Of the villages and communities selected for the pilot project, 90 are in Surat Thani, nine each in Phatthalung and Krabi, eight in Nakhon Si Thammarat, seven in Phangnga, five in Ranong, four in Trang, and one each in Chumphon, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi.

The communities have been chosen based on their records of traditional use of kratom. The plant has long been used as a traditional medicine to treat pain, fever, dysentery and diarrhoea.

The pilot scheme follows the Justice Ministry's policy to reclassify the plant in the narcotics bill after its categorisation as a Type-5 narcotic for the past 78 years.

The law does not allow production, consumption, sale, import, export or possession of the plant, unless permitted by the Public Health Ministry on a case-by-case basis. Selling it can lead to a jail term of up to two years and/or a fine of 40,000-200,000 baht. Possession can result in a jail term of up to one year and/or a 2,000 baht fine.

The Interior Ministry has also ordered authorities in these 10 provinces to make arrangements to facilitate the easing of the legal prohibition and set up community-level committees to monitor the use of the plant and prevent its abuse.

In 2017, the Office of Narcotics Control Board chose a community in tambon Namphu, in Surat Thani's Ban Na San district, for a pilot scheme which reported a few cases of misuse because the community introduced its own code for regulated use. It was that success which led to the expanded scheme.

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