Kratom trees in Thailand being destroyed on sight

The traditional use of the narcotic and energizing Kratom leaves dates back several centuries. Mid 20th century it became illegal in Thailand, the country of origin for the Kratom tree. The law was only loosely enforced, until recently when the popularity of Kratom started to spread.

Kratom is now been rediscovered by a younger generation and used as a refreshing cocktail after a hard day's work. It owes it's popularity to being cheaper than alcohol or drugs, and it's use also carries less of a stigma in the largely Muslim population of Thailand, where it's use is seen as a medicine.

With the sharp increase in Kratom, Thai officials are reporting more drugs-related crimes and trafficking along the border between Thailand and Malaysia. Kratom has also been linked to the insurgency by government officials. The endless and bloody struggle between the insurgency and the army has cost many lives, and attacks occur almost daily in the southern parts of Thailand.

General Choti Chavalviwat, a police commander in the Narathiwat province, is one of many police officials and experts that disputes the claimed link between the insurgency and kratom: "Religion, history and ethnicity drive the insurgency.'' He told a New York Times reported that the link with drugs was weak, at best.

Due to its rise in popularity, the official Thai policy is to destroy any Kratom tree on sight. However this new policy is causing tension with environmental protection agencies. The Satun reserve is a protected forest with a large number of Kratom trees spread out over 30 acres. Destroying them all would require large amounts of herbicide, which will also hurt other plant life, local animals and contaminate the water.

The Office of the Narcotics Control Board has proposed that Kratom be legalized, according to a report on Kratom published by the Transnational Institute, which is based in the Netherlands.


New York Times - A Fading Thai Drug Finds Its Resurgence in a Cocktail