The legal status of kratom is under review in Thailand. Options include making kratom available only by prescription, decriminalizing small amounts and total legalization. “There’s never been a single death associated with kratom,” said Pascal Tanguay, who investigated kratom use for the Transnational Institute. “People have been chewing this for thousands of years with no cases of overdose, psychosis, murder, violent crime. Never in all of recorded history.”
Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri said he is considering the possibility of legalising krathom leaves with one of the options being to use the plant as a substitute in drug treatment programmes. But public opinion would need to be gauged first, he said. The idea could materialise if it is backed by scientific research and gains social acceptance. Krathom is classified as a drug in the 5th category of the Narcotics Act, alongside cannabis and psychotropic mushroom species, but has lighter penalties than those drugs.
Despite the provisions in the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act (2002), laws remain in force which lead to the arrest and charges for offences under previous Acts (1975, 1976, 1979). Thus the policy that stipulates that people who use drugs or are dependent on drugs should be “treated as patients, not criminals” is contradicted by existing legal practices that establish criminal liability for mere consumption of drugs. However, the Thai government is now on the verge of adopting a national harm reduction policy to prevent HIV and other blood-borne virus transmission in the near future.