On October 12, 2020, the Thai Cabinet approved in principle the draft “Kratom Act.”
By way of background, kratom is an herbal extract that comes from a tropical tree that has stimulant qualities if used in high doses. It was previously controlled under the Thai Narcotics Act because of its addictive effects. However, following recent developments in the liberalization of cannabis and hemp in Thailand, the Thai government has also been considering liberalization of the rules regarding kratom. On March 10, 2020, the Cabinet approved in principle a draft amendment to the Narcotics Act, which was proposed by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) and which would remove kratom (Mitragyna speciosa (Korth.) Havil.) from the list of category V narcotics under the Narcotics Act. However, due to its properties and addictive effects, the Council of State (a government organization which performs consultative functions including drafting laws, by-laws, rules and regulations) is of the view that there should be a specific regulation for kratom once it is no longer controlled under the Narcotics Act. The draft Kratom Act was prepared to address this concern.
Some key elements of the draft Kratom Act are set out below:
- The draft Kratom Act will not regulate herbal products, drugs, foods or cosmetics containing kratom, which will be regulated under the relevant laws on herbal products, drugs, foods or cosmetics, as applicable.
- The manufacture, import, or export of kratom will require a license issued by the Secretary-General of the ONCB.
- The draft Kratom Act will restrict certain access to kratom. For example, it cannot be sold to persons under the age of 18 or to pregnant women.
- There will also be certain restrictions on the place and method of sale of kratom, e.g. it cannot be sold in education institutions or dormitories, or sold via vending machines or online.
- The advertising of kratom with the aim to induce the public to consume kratom will be prohibited.
The draft Kratom Act will be proposed to the Office of the Council of State for further consideration. Subsequently, it will be sent back to the Cabinet for approval of the text before being proposed to the Parliament.