Approved! Thailand’s House of Representatives passes draft Kratom Plant Act

After being delisted from the list of controlled substances under the 1972 Narcotics Act B.E. 2522, a new piece of legislation setting limitations, restrictions, and requirements for kratom import or export licenses has been passed by the House of Representatives on 8 September 2021. It is now expected to go to the Senate for further review before becoming law. While the provisions of the Act may be subject to further changes, there are several points of interest.

Principal among these include restrictions on where and to whom kratom can be sold. According to the Act’s current draft, the sale of kratom within academic institutions, dormitories, zoos, and amusement parks will be prohibited. Moreover, it prohibits the sale of kratom to minors under the age of 18, as well as pregnant or lactating women except for medical treatment or research. Sellers who violate these restrictions may face a fine of up to THB 50,000 and THB 30,000, respectively. The draft Act also prohibits the consumption of kratom with other narcotic or psychotropic substances.

The draft Kratom Act also includes provisions that deal with advertising and promoting kratom, stating that attempts to encourage consumption as a narcotic or psychotropic substance is strictly prohibited and may carry a fine of up to THB 200,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to two years. Moreover, the Act prohibits deceptive or manipulative actions that coerce or force users to unwittingly consume kratom alongside other illegal substances, and those found to be in violation of this prohibition may face a fine of up to THB 100,000 and/or a prison sentence not exceeding one year. These restrictions suggest regulators recognize and support the use of Kratom in traditional medicines as well as for therapeutic and research purposes, but recreational use will remain illegal for the foreseeable future.

Those that want to import or export kratom have to apply for a license from the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, unless for personal consumption within the prescribed amount set out in an upcoming regulation to be announced by the Ministry of Public Health. The Secretary-General of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board cautioned the public to be aware of the limitations under other regulations that are still in effect, particularly those surrounding food products that incorporate kratom. An example of this is the Food Act B.E. 2522 which prohibits the sale of boiled kratom water, a commonly used method for consuming the plant.

However, the Minister of Justice, who is a major proponent of the Kratom Plant Act, said that restrictions on the use of kratom will limit its commercial potential and called on the Ministry of Public Health to pursue amendments to relevant laws in order to benefit the Thai people.

Concluding remarks

Regulations surrounding kratom have quickly changed this year, with Kratom only been decriminalized in late August 2021. While the statement made by the Secretary-General of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board regarding existing restrictions remains true, the widespread support for the commercialization of kratom for medical use from both regulators and the public suggests that further regulatory amendments loosening restrictions on the plant are possible.

Until such time, it is advisable to seek expert counsel before starting any project or business involving Kratom, as it is still subject to various and strict regulatory requirements. Silk Legal will continue to monitor regulatory developments and will provide updates when available.

For inquiries regarding kratom and other New Chemical Entities (“NCEs”), please contact us at [email protected] or using the contact form provided on our website.