Kratom, or mitragyna speciosa, is a plant that was discovered by a dutch settler in the early 1800s. In southern Thailand, the use of kratom has been common practice by natives for thousands of years.
HISTORY OF KRATOM
In spite of the rich history and tradition of kratom within Thailand, the Thai government passed the Kratom Act 2486 on August 3, 1943. The Kratom Act made planting the tree illegal and required existing trees to be cut down. Currently, despite the government’s effort to control this indigenous tree, nearly 70% of adult males in southern Thailand use kratom. In 1979, Thailand scheduled kratom in category 5 of the Narcotic Act, which also includes cannabis and magic mushrooms and is the least punitive category. As evidenced by the 2010 proposal from the Thai Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), which sought to decriminalize kratom and recognize its traditional use as part of fundamental Thai culture, the Thai authorities today consider the attempts at restricting kratom use as unnecessary and faulty. The ONCB concluded that decades of widespread kratom use without any negative social impact, made prohibiting the leaf counterproductive. The report also officially revealed what many students of kratom’s history have long suspected – that kratom was banned for economic reasons and not due to any concern over its social impact. During the decades preceding the 1943 Kratom Act, the Thai government was collecting substantial tax revenue resulting from the opium trade.