Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong confirmed yesterday that the narcotics control committee under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has still not reached a decision on whether to remove "kratom" (Mitragyna speciosa) from the prohibited nar
It could take another two months for the sub-panel, assigned to gather information on the tropical evergreen, to reach its conclusions, he said.
Used for various medicinal purposes, the leaves of the kratom tree are psychoactive when chewed, producing an uplifting mood.
Pradit said the Justice Ministry had consulted the Public Health Ministry on whether kratom could be removed from the illicit drugs list on the grounds that it could be used as a medicine in aiding the recovery of yaba addicts, as well as acting as a substitute for yaba – thus reducing the number of yaba addicts.
Legalisation of kratom would also reduce the number of people being detained for kratom possession, as well as being wrongly charged with possession. The sub-panel, said Pradit, would have to study these factors before a decision could be made.
He said the ministry, in its role as an academic body, would focus on the medical properties of kratom in relation to health, rather than issues surrounding its legal use. However, Pradit stated there were similar substances with the same medical properties as kratom, thus there was no real need to use it.
FDA chief Boonchai Somboonsuk said ministerial agencies were gathering academic information as instructed by Pradit.
If all could agree that kratom should not be classed as an illegal drug, they would inform the committee.
Boonchai said there had already been two attempts to de-list kratom, one in 2004 and the other in 2009, but the committee had refused to change kratom’s status as an illegal drug. It would be a good time to review those cases, he said, because there had been many changes and developments since the last case.
Considerations this time would be based on the Justice Ministry’s reasoning, and on internationally accepted protocol.