Arguments for Decriminalising Kratom in Thailand: Why Is the Scientific Community in Support of It?

Kratom is a controversial substance—perhaps not as controversial as cannabis, or not yet, but it does have its fair share of hype and hold on the public interest.  Properly known as mitragyna speciosa, it generally owes its fame to its curious psychoactive properties, which blend both stimulant and sedative symptoms, and its (unofficial) usage as an opium substitute and opium withdrawal management drug.  While it can be found being used publicly for such purposes as well as for recreation in a fair number of Western countries today—most notably the US—the herb ironically has black market status in several of the countries from which specimens come.  The most noteworthy example here would be Thailand.

Kratom Leaves

Kratom Leaves

Kratom is illegal in Thailand.  It has been ever since August of 1943, when the Kratom Act 2486 was passed banning its use as well as cultivation.  The illegality established by the act, however, has had little effect on the reality: the Thai people still use kratom, and as far as cultivation of it goes, that has been just as difficult to stop, given that the tree is endemic to the country.  What efforts have taken place to enforce the act, even when successful, have been largely footnotes in a chronicle of ongoing and culturally-entrenched kratom use.

This is part of what drives the argument to legalise kratom in Thailand, to be sure, but it is hardly the primary logic behind it.  Indeed, arguably the most powerful arguments for the legalisation of the herb come not even from the users but from the scientific community, which points to the potential usefulness of the herb as a medicinal drug.  Being a mu-opioid receptor agonist, it has the capacity to elicit similar analgesic effects as morphine, yet also seems to lack both the common negative side effects of other opioids and their addictive potential.  Hence, it is argued that the legalisation of kratom would do more for the public than its illegalisation, by making it easier to access for scientific testing and medical usage.

As a final note, it must be remarked that there are a fair number of sources who allege that the ban on kratom was in fact economically-motivated as opposed to being concerned with public health and wellness.  Even the ONCB (Office of Narcotics Control Board) of Thailand has released a statement to that effect and argued for its legalisation in the country.  The government, however, has yet to respond.

Learn more about the reasons people are proposing the abolition of Kratom Act 2486 in Thailand and know why the transnational scientific community is supporting the decriminalization by visiting:

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