Kratom – legality

The cultivation, purchase, and consumption of kratom is legal in most countries of the world

Australia is the only Western country with an exception. Kratom however is illegal in the countries of its natural occurrence in Southeast Asia as Thailand, Myanmar (=Burma), or Malaysia, where partially draconian punishments up to death penalty threaten. In the following the legality in different countries is described, these details though cannot claim full accuracy, because of the constantly changing laws. They have to be double checked for their relevancy should the situation arise.

THAILAND

Kratom is legally prohibited in Thailand through the “Kratom Act” of August 3, 1943. This law did not only punish the cultivation, possession, and consumption of kratom, but required also the lumbering of existing trees, which is a hopeless undertaking in a country with naturally occurring kratom trees. Kratom is in Thailand with the same criminal degree punished as heroin or cocaine. In fact Kratom vendors get normally sentenced with up to two years in prison and a fine from ? up to 20.000 Baht (approximately 416 EURO as of August 2009). Consumers on the other hand can look forward to a sentence of one month in prison and a fine of 1000 Baht (approximately 20 EURO as of August 2009). In a report of 2001 from the “Thai Narcotic Control Board” can be seen that this lax implementation of the criminal law has made kratom the second most consumed drug after marijuana. In the newest report of this authority in 2007 was an admonishment about an epidemic spreading of the kratom plant especially in the south of the country. In addition individuals addicted to kratom make according to this report up approximately 1.7 % of all drug addicted individuals in Thailand (ONCB, 2007).

MYANMAR (BURMA)

Kratom is since January 28, 1993 a controlled anesthetic under the “Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Law” of the Health Department of Myanmar. Latest information about the statistics does not exist from this office.

MALAYSIA

Mitragynine was put 2003 into the “First Schedule” and “Third Schedule” of the “Poison Act 1952”, in order to check and control the improper use of kratom. According to this law the growing of a kratom tree is not punishable, and the enforcement authority is not authorized to cut already growing trees down. For the possession or selling of kratom leaves or its products as tea the maximum penalty was laid down as a fine of 10.000 RM (approximately 2.200 EURO as of August 2009) and/or prison sentence of four years (Chang et al, 2005). However the enforcement appears here also not to take place consequently, so that the consumption of kratom is under consideration to be punished also.

AUSTRALIA

Despite several opinions, that mitragynine is relatively harmless and its dependency risks are relatively small, kratom was put in Australia into the register of illegal substances (Schedule 9). The responsible committee, that decided on this an action, justified it with the improper use potential of kratom. The sale, distribution, consumption, and preparation of kratom are since January 1, 2005 illegal according to the law, and its preparation products are only permitted for

research purposes (NDPSC 2003). This way kratom is in Australia criminally treated similar to Thailand at the level of LSD, marijuana, heroin, or DMT.

USA

In the United States kratom is in all States legal. Nevertheless it occupied the focus of interest of the „Drug Enforcement Administration“ (DEA). In a “Microgram Bulletin” of March 2006 is reported, that a sample of kratom was acquired for research purposes. In addition general information about kratom is discussed. A recommendation for further handling cannot be found. Since then kratom is not mentioned in any of the Newsletters.

EUROPE

In all European countries, except Germany, Poland, Finland, and Lithuania, Kratom is legal.

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