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Why is kratom banned in Thailand?

For anyone who begins to get familiar with the world of kratom, one of the first things you will have heard is that the plant is native to Southeast Asia, especially from countries like Thailand.

It is striking that in this country kratom is illegalized when it has a tradition of more than 3000 years linked to the culture and alternative medicine of the people.

There are many rumors and legends about the reasons that led to the illegalization ofkratom in Thailand, so we have to situate ourselves in the historical context in which its prohibition occurred in 1943.

The Siamese coup d'รฉtat of 1932 transformed the government of Thailand from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy which promoted many political and economic changes such as the regulation of opium and the taxation on it.

The black market of opium generated enormous amounts of money and the new government knew how lucrative it could be for the state to legalize this trade. Therefore, they approved a series of laws and fiscal measures to collect taxes for any aspect related to the opium trade, from cultivation, handling, distributor, retailer and final consumer.

The consumption of opium shot up, also increasing the number of addicts to it. It was a very important source of income that was worth protecting for the prosperity of the government.

Meanwhile in the field, manual workers performed demanding physical tasks in long hours sometimes without days of rest in a long time. They began to resort more to kratom that naturally grew in their region. In kratom they found an aid to control the pain and the physical fatigue that they experienced besides a sensation of peace and calm that helped them to face the work throughout the day.

Known as the marijuana of the poor, the plant was very easy to obtain and was much cheaper than opium that had been heavily taxed. In addition, it was consumed openly without social prejudice, many people chewed their leaves in public or boiled them to consume as a tea.

Over time more people not only linked to work in the field, began to try kratom finding a way to manage opium addiction with less dependence and more security.

The war broke out in 1942; the East Asian War as history called it. The impact of the war was terrible for the economy, and all the taxes of the opium trade evaporated suddenly. The government hastened to find ways to recover this source of cash that they had enjoyed in the past. They reviewed the opium market analyzing if there were alternatives that were reducing the consumption of this and therefore its contribution to the Treasury.

As more people began to replace opiate drugs with the cheaper and less harmful kratom, the government began to see the decline in tax revenues.

This encouraged them to intervene in the sale of kratom and in 1943 the Law of Kratom 2846 was passed, by which the possession of kratom became illegal, promoting measures also for the destruction of trees and the restriction to plant new ones. However, being an autochthonous species with great abundance in the country, it was impossible to eradicate it completely, especially in southern populations where they continued to cultivate and use it.

At present, although the sale of online kratom of Thai origin can be announced due to its good reputation, this corresponds more to a marketing measure than to a reality, being the origin of the kratom exported worldwide, mostly from Indonesia and Malaysia.

The scientific evidences and the testimonies that defend kratom as a safe alternative to other substances, together with the possible contribution of kratom to the local economy in the entry of foreign currency, make the country consider changing the regulation.


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