Kratom Plant Act takes effect
Rules put accent on medicinal use
The Kratom Plant Act has been promulgated with legal terms clearly specified concerning the exploitation of its medicinal property and its use being off-limits to the weak and vulnerable.
The promulgation was greeted with relief by the Justice Ministry after kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa) was taken off the list of narcotics more than a year and a half ago.
Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said the Act took effect on Saturday.
The law principally covers the use of kratom leaves, the boiling of kratom leaves to create infused water, extracts from the leaves, and the kratom licence application process.
It also concerns the suspension and revocation of related licences, legal protection of people prone to harm caused by consuming kratom leaves and prevention of abuse of the leaves.
The core contents of the law are outlined in five sections.
In Section 3, the use of kratom leaves as a herbal ingredient is governed by respective laws on medicinal, food and cosmetics products. Related laws will also apply to the imports, exports, sales and advertisement of such products.
Section 10 stipulates that imports and exports of kratom leaves require a licence to be granted by the secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board.
Section 24, meanwhile, bans the sale of kratom leaves or food containing the leaves in any shape or form to people under the age of 18, lactating women, pregnant women and people specified by the justice minister or public health minister. The offences each carry a fine of up to 30,000 baht.
Section 25 prohibits the sale of kratom leaves at education outlets, dormitories, public parks, theme parks and zoos. The leaves may not be sold through a vending machine. Violators face a maximum fine of 50,000 baht.
Section 26 states it is illegal to advertise or persuade people to consume kratom leaves by mixing them with addictive substances.
Ms Rachada said state agencies under the law can support people to grow kratom and process the leaves in keeping with their way of life and tradition. Kratom is also to be developed as a plant of economic value to be expanded for use in the field of medicine.
The Agriculture Ministry is also educating farmers on how to grow quality kratom and propagate it. Farming kratom as a garden herb will increase employment.
People should study the law to fully understand how to harness the full benefits of kratom without the risk of committing legal violations, she said.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said the government spent a long time trying to delist kratom as a narcotic before it finally succeeded in pushing for the legislation.
He said the legal recognition of kratom has sent retail prices of the plant plummeting, from 400-600 baht/kilogramme at their peak to 200baht/kg now.
The minister admitted more support from the government was needed to research and upgrade the quality of kratom leaves, which could be made into consumer products that are in high demand in China and the US.
Mr Somsak said laws may be amended to allow for the production of kratom leaves and herbal ingredients in food, medicine and cosmetics.
He said he opposes importing the plant to protect the local market.