Thailand’s New Kratom Laws & What it Means for You

A Thai temple and statues

Thailand Kratom is incredibly popular, even as it labors under intense scrutiny and threats of increased regulation in the United States. One thing that critics have seized on for years in their arguments alleging that Kratom should be restricted is the Thailand Kratom ban. After all, if the country of origin restricts its domestic production, sale, and possession so severely, they allege, wouldn’t it make sense for the United States to join them. While its true that this potent ethnobotanical is interwoven with the region’s cultures, the basis for Thailand’s Kratom laws are not only more complicated but shifting as well.

Thousands Of Years Of Use…

The Mitragyna speciosa tree, known worldwide as Kratom, is indigenous to the jungles and rainforests throughout Southeast Asia, where it has long been used as a medicinal plant by the native peoples who populate the small villages that dot the area. These subsistence level communities, often isolated from all but the closest neighboring villages throughout history, have relied on the forest to provide food, materials for industry, and the plants they need for health for generations. Thailand Kratom, an evergreen tree related to the coffee plant, is one of the most culturally significant ethnobotanicals in their culture.

With a variety of health benefits attributed to it based on the color of the leaves’ veins and the amount consumed, it has served as a cure-all. Traditionally, the leaves are picked and chewed to release the alkaline compound that is active in the plant. To this day, despite the putative Thailand Kratom ban, Kratom trees are plentiful in the same rainforests and jungles they’ve always grown in. In addition, Kratom imported from Thailand is readily available in world markets, as the ban still allows production for export, preserving a cash crop vital to the region.

Cars rush down busy street in Thailand

…Eighty Years Of Restriction

The history of the Thailand Kratom ban has its roots in the Siamese Revolution of 1932. Considered a bloodless revolution, it saw Thailand change from an absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy. The aftermath, however, was not without blood as political adversaries jockeyed for position. In 1938, the most powerful man in the country, Plaek Phibunsongkhram, ascended to his first term as Prime Minister.

Phibun’s reign saw a rise in authoritarian policies, as he and his political allies both worked to shore up domestic support or their iron-handed tactics and fend off international pressures from neighboring Southeast Asian powers and Western Colonialists. As part of these policies, harsh laws taxing and regulating the opiate trade were put in place. These would soon affect Thailand Kratom indirectly.

As the taxes and duties placed on opium began to price it out of the range of the common worker, consumers turned to other sources. Cannabis taxes were quickly adjusted to ensure the government got its money, but the people still had a source for traditional relief: Kratom.

Thailand Kratom was untaxed and considered untaxable. After all, any citizen could simply go pick a basket of leaves from the nearby forest and sell it to whoever they met, completely bypassing government tax collectors. With more and more people turning to untaxed, unregulated Kratom rather than paying for the now expensive opium and marijuana, the government chose to enact the Thailand Kratom ban.

The skyline of Bangkok, capital of Thailand

The Ban In Effect

Ostensibly, the ban made the planting, possession, and use of Thailand Kratom illegal. Existing trees could be cut down on sight. Anyone caught in violation of the law could be arrested and subjected to harsh penalties. The Thailand Kratom ban effectively killed the domestic trade in Kratom, ensuring that the money was instead funneled through the heavily taxed substances that lined the government’s coffers.

The Thailand Kratom ban did not, however, kill the use of Kratom, nor was it expected to. There is no practical way to eliminate the growth of a tree that is so widespread throughout the geographical area, particularly when so many people live in remote, hard to get to areas. Indigenous people still had access to wild Thailand Kratom, and usage remained high. Whatever the wording of the law, its targets had always been the city dwellers and the larger commercial operations that were being used to skirt tax laws.

Even with the passage of the Thai Narcotics Law in 1979 which had provisions that replaced the Thailand Kratom ban, the restriction against private usage was only sporadically enforced. This law officially categorizes Kratom as a narcotic in Thailand but assigned it to a list of Class V substances that were considered the least addictive and harmful, therefore carrying lighter penalties. This made the penalties for using Thailand Kratom less than what they were under the ban. The punishment for Kratom trafficking, the commercial cultivation, and sale of Kratom, remains extremely severe, especially in larger quantities.

Shifting Public Perception Leads To Shifting Laws

As in the United States, modern Thai consumers are increasingly seeking natural ways to take control of their health and wellness. For many, this means turning to the plants that have held a traditional place within the culture as medicinals. Just as the debate rages in America surrounding the potential benefits of cannabis, leading to states legalizing medical marijuana and CBD derived from industrial hemp being legalized at the federal level by the 2018 Farm Bill, pressure began to mount on the Thai legislature to allow for the medicinal use of both cannabis and Thailand Kratom by enacting laws that allow for the proper regulation of domestic cultivation, processing, sales, and use.

In December 2018, bowing to public pressure, the 2018 Narcotic Act passed the Thai legislature. This established a program for the medical use of marijuana and Kratom. This effectively ended the argument by Kratom’s detractors that a Thailand Kratom ban should inform United States Kratom policy, as there is no longer a ban in place, just scientific-based regulation. Under the new law, a medical professional can prescribe the use of Kratom or marijuana for the treatment of certain conditions. An amnesty program was started for those who had a supply of substances before the reversal of the Thailand Kratom ban took effect but have gotten their medical certification, that way existing users do not need to fear falling into a gray area of the law.

The Thai government, particularly incoming Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, have not only signaled support for this law, but a commitment to revise it as needed to better serve the responsible users of marijuana and Thailand Kratom. For example, while the initial legislation specifies medical professionals as the certifying authorities, this leaves many Thai citizens, those in rural areas without ready access to affordable modern medicine, without the ability to gain the protections of medical certification. Mr. Charnvirakul, however, has directed the regulations be revised to include the folk healers and traditional healers that have managed the health of these rural populations for generations. This indicates a commitment to allow Thailand Kratom to return to its traditional and rightful role in Thai culture.

Man walks through busy food market in Thailand

What The Lifting Of The Thailand Kratom Ban Means For Americans

In the adversarial environment created for American Kratom enthusiasts by the FDA, any positive Kratom news is welcome. While it may not affect American regulators’ policies towards Kratom directly, it removes a tired argument from their arsenal. At the same time, Kratom advocates can now point to Thailand as an example of responsible legislators listening to their constituents.

The return of Thailand Kratom to legality cannot be seen as anything but a win for those who believe responsible adults should be able to choose for themselves how to best support their health and wellness. Remember, however, that the changes to both the public perception in Thailand and the laws surrounding Kratom did not happen on their own. The Thailand Kratom ban ended because people stood up for their rights and made sure their voices were heard. People just like you.

Stay Informed And Be Active

If you want to help keep access to Thailand Kratom by responsible adults safe and legal, now is the time to act. Becoming an advocate for Kratom can be as easy as educating yourself, responsibly managing your Kratom, and being an outspoken supporter of your right to determine what’s in your best interests. Organizations like the American Kratom Association have phenomenal educational resources. In addition, State and local chapters around the country are working to coordinate legislative action events meant to bring visibility to the public and influence your representatives by encouraging them to stand up for your rights and reject the FDA’s kratom ban.

When you need the highest-quality Kratom for your research, Kratom Spot is proud to deliver sustainable Kratom products at reasonable prices. Call our customer service department today with any questions, and order your premium Thailand Kratom products from Kratom Spot.