Thailand Decriminalizes Kratom in Amended Narcotics Act

CANNANNEW REPORT

AUTHORS Suruswadee Jaimsuwan Counsel suruswadee.j@tilleke.com   Atthachai Homhuan Director, Regulatory Affairs atthachai.h@tilleke.com Recently enacted Thai legislation has removed Mitragyna speciosa, commonly known as “kratom,” from the list of controlled narcotics under the Narcotics Act B.E. 2522 (1972), effectively decriminalizing the consumption, production, disposal, import, export, and possession of kratom, for any purpose and in any quantity or form, effective August 24, 2021. The Narcotics Act (No. 8) B.E. 2564 (2021) was published in the Government Gazette on May 26, 2021, and will come into effect 90 days later. This change comes some two years after Thailand allowed the use of cannabis and kratom for medical proposes with the Narcotics Act (No. 7) B.E. 2562 (2019). Nevertheless, it appears that kratom will still be subject to some level of regulation. On June 1, 2021, the government announced that draft legislation regulating the sale and use of kratom plants was approved by the cabinet. The draft is expected to set licensing requirements for growing, selling, and importing or exporting kratom for industrial use, while also prohibiting the sale of kratom to minors and pregnant or nursing women, and clarifying issues such as labeling, advertising, and selling channels. It is also important to note that the use of kratom for production of food and beverages under the control of the Thai Food and Drug Administration remains prohibited unless the Ministry of Public Health Notification RE: Prohibited List of Plants for Use in Food is amended. Kratom is a plant indigenous to Southeast Asia which some consider to have potential medicinal applications due to the presence of mitragynine—an alkaloid anecdotally said to boost energy, ease pain, and assist with opiate withdrawal. However, these claims have not been properly studied due to its relative international obscurity and illegality in many of the countries to which it is native. Kratom is an addictive substance and…

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