Thailand’s Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya aims strongly to remove krathom* and marijuana from the narcotic drugs list sand trat them as medicinal herbs as he sees the government has failed to curb them.
According to the local media, Bangkok Post, Mr Paiboon said that the strict law against consuming krathom and marijuana has been proven to be unsuccessful, and therefore, thinks that it is time to rewrite the law and make them as herbs.
Mr Paiboon reiterated his stance on Friday (18 November) during a meeting, which was called because crackdowns in Thailand are believed to have forced people to buy the plants from Malaysia. He held the meeting with officials and civic groups from 14 southern provinces in Songkhla.
He stated, “But the law must make clear a legal way to use them.” Then he added that successfully eradicating these plants will not end drug problems.
Krathom, known scientifically as Mitragyna speciosa, and marijuana are currently categorised as Class 5 narcotics under the 1979 Narcotic Drugs Act in Bangkok.
Currently, its law does not allow for the production, consumption, sale, import, export or possession of these drugs, unless permitted by the public health minister on a case-by-case basis.
The current law governing the substances
For Cannabis Under Category 5:
- From 2-15 years imprisonment and a fine of 200,000 – 1,500,000 Baht for production, importation or exportation
- From 2-10 years imprisonment or a fine of 40,000 – 200,000 Baht or both for disposal or possession for the purpose of disposal. If the quantity is over 10 kilograms, the penalty is increased to a maximum of 15 years and a fine of 200,000 – 1,500,000 Baht
- Imprisonment not exceeding 5 years and or a fine not exceeding 100,000 Baht or both for possession
- Imprisonment not exceeding 1 year and a fine of 100,000 – 1,000,000 for consumption
For Kratom Plant Under Category 5:
- Imprisonment not exceeding 2 years and a fine not exceeding 200,000 Baht for production, importation or exportation
- Imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding 40,000 Baht or both for disposal or possession for the purpose of disposal. If the quantity is over 10 kilograms, the penalty is imprisonment not exceeding 2 years and a fine not exceeding 200,000 Baht
- Imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding 20,000 Baht or both for possession
- Imprisonment not exceeding 1 month or a fine not exceeding 2,000 Baht for consumption
The Food and Drug Administration Bangkok had suggested the government last month to legalise krathom because experts have found it has medicinal properties, including as a painkiller. FDA believes that a legal amendment will benefit the medical treatment of patients suffering from certain illnesses.
Mr Paiboon believes that controlling the use of krathom requires cooperation from the authorities who can educate people to prevent abuse.
Marijuana also referred to as Cannabis, is classified as a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act in Singapore.Possession or consumption of cannabis, will result in up to 10 years of imprisonment or S$20,000 fine or both. Furthermore, If one were to be found for Illegal traffic, import or export of cannabis above the stipulated amount will face the death penalty.
*Kratom is a tree native to Southeast Asia. The leaves of the tree are often collected and chewed and act as an opiate. Kratom chewing is common among coffee farmers and other physical laborers to ease the strain of work, but its long-term effects are highly destructive and lead to physical dependency and severely decreased capacities.