Thailand announced Tuesday the decriminalization of the possession and sale of kratom, a psychotropic plant native to Southeast Asia that has long been used in traditional medicine and has a following in the United States.
Thais can now “consume and sell” kratom, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said in a statement. Meanwhile, charges against carriers and consumers of the plant were fully dropped and more than 120 detainees were immediately released, the spokesman added.
Kratom leaves, whose scientific name is ‘Mitragyna speciosa’, have been consumed for centuries in Southeast Asia for their stimulant and analgesic effects. In Thailand, the substance had been illegal since 1943 and was punishable by two to 15 years in prison, plus a fine of 20,000 to 150,000 baht for those with more than 10 kg.
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The legalization of kratom does not include mixing it with other drugs to make a narcotic tea or cocktail, so these forms remain illegal. For local authorities, however, it means a relief from the pressure of the Thai judicial system.
Legalization will put an end to “the abusive criminalization of this drug long used in the country’s traditional rural communities,” said a member of Human Rights Watch.
Kratom has already been studied by US authorities, where it has some supporters. The country’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists the plant as one of the “drugs of concern”, warning that “its use can lead to addiction”.
-Thailand News (TN)
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