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Thailand’s New Legal Framework For Kratom – Food and Drugs Law



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In 2021, Thailand passed the updated Narcotics Act (No. 8) B.E.
2564 (2021), which removed kratom (Mitragyna speciosa)
from the list of prohibited substances, eliminated kratom-related
offenses on the basis that its consumption is part of traditional
Thai cultural norms, and allowed possession and consumption.

On August 26, 2022, Thailand published the Kratom Plant Act B.E.
2565 (2022) in the Government Gazette, and the
law came into effect the following day. With the aim of encouraging
economic activity related to kratom, the act regulates the trade,
sale, consumption, study, and advertising of kratom leaves (alone
or as an ingredient in food) in Thailand.

Importing and Exporting Kratom Leaves

Importing and exporting kratom leaves without obtaining a
license from the secretary-general of the Narcotics Control
Board (NCB) is prohibited under the
Kratom Plant Act. Eligible license recipients include:

  • Thai nationals over twenty years old and residing in
    Thailand;

  • Juristic persons registered under Thai law;

  • Community enterprises under the law; and

  • Government agencies.

A license is valid for five years, and importers and exporters
must still notify the NCB when importing or exporting kratom
leaves. An exception to the licensing requirement is bringing
kratom leaves in and out of Thailand for personal consumption,
therapy, and treatment of an illness. The amounts allowed for
international travel are to be specified in ministerial
regulations. If the amount of the kratom leaves exceeds this
allowance, the transport will be considered importing or exporting
of kratom leaves, triggering the licensing requirements described
above.

Violation of these requirements is subject to imprisonment for
up to one year, a maximum fine of THB 100,000, or both.

Selling Kratom

The Kratom Plant Act also allows the sale of kratom leaves alone
or as an ingredient in food, subject to certain conditions. Under
the law, sales of kratom include selling, dispensing, distributing,
exchanging, or giving the substance to others. The laws measures
pertaining to this are intended to protect people from the
potential harm of consuming or misusing kratom.

It is prohibited to sell kratom leaves or food that contains
kratom leaves as an ingredient to persons under 18 years old, and
pregnant or breastfeeding women. The law also authorizes ministers
of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Public Health to
prohibit selling kratom to additional persons. Sellers must post an
announcement at their place of sale (including electronic points of
sale) noting the prohibition on selling kratom to these parties.
Violating one of these prohibitions or not posting the required
announcement or notice is punishable by a fine of up to THB
30,000.

There are two exceptions. Selling to the restricted persons
mentioned above may be allowed only if done for medical or
educational purposes, defined specifically as follows:

  • Treatment of disease, therapy, or relief of illness under the
    supervision of a medical practitioner, dental practitioner, Thai
    traditional medicine practitioner, or traditional medical
    professional under the law related to the Thai traditional medical
    profession; or

  • Study, analysis, or research carried out by a government agency
    that is responsible for conducting medical, pharmaceutical, or
    scientific research or education, or providing medical,
    pharmaceutical, or scientific services for the benefit of medical
    or pharmaceutical, Thai Red Cross Society, or educational
    institutions.

Besides the prohibitions on selling to certain parties, some
locations and points of sale are also off limits for selling kratom
leaves or food containing kratom leaves. Kratom leaves by
themselves may not be sold in educational institutions,
dormitories, parks, zoos, amusement parks, vending machines, or
other places specified in announcements by ministers of the
Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Public Health. Violations
are subject to a fine of up to THB 50,000—and up to twice
that (i.e., THB 100,000) if the sale is to one of the prohibited
parties mentioned above.

While consumption of kratom is now legal following its removal
from the narcotics list, it is prohibited to consume kratom leaves
mixed with narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, dangerous
substances, or any other substance specified by the Ministry of
Justice, except when done for the specific medical or education
purposes given above. Violation is subject to a maximum fine of THB
50,000.

Advertising

Advertising or promoting the consumption of kratom leaves mixed
with narcotics or psychotropic substances, drugs and dangerous
substances, or other designated substances is also prohibited under
the Kratom Plant Act. This is a comprehensive ban on inducing
people to consume any of these kratom-containing mixtures, covering
advertisement or any type of marketing communication by means of
public relations, news, publishing promotion, point-of-sale
displays, direct marketing, sales, and online or computer
advertising. Violations of this ban are subject to imprisonment for
up to two years, a maximum fine of THB 200,000, or both.

Similarly, convincing others (including “encouraging,
deceiving, intimidating, improperly influencing, or forcing”)
to consume kratom leaves mixed with narcotic drugs, psychotropic
substances, dangerous substances, or other designated substances is
also prohibited. Violations of this prohibition are subject to
imprisonment for up to one year, a maximum fine of THB 100,000, or
both. Penalties can be doubled if the violation is committed
against persons under age 18, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or
any other person designated by the Ministry of Justice or the
Ministry of Public Health, for a maximum sentence of imprisonment
for two years and a fine of THB 200,000.

Conclusion

Overall, the Kratom Plant Act lays out a general framework that
regulates importing and exporting kratom leaves and supervises the
sale, consumption, advertising, and misuse of kratom leaves and
food containing kratom leaves. However, there are still additional
specific restrictions in various regulations or announcements from
the NCB, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Health, and other
relevant agencies.

Furthermore, using kratom leaves in certain products can trigger
other regulations. For example, using kratom leaves as raw
materials or components of herbal products, drugs, and cosmetics
may be subject to specific laws such as the Herbal Product Act,
Drugs Act, or Cosmetics Act. The relevant provisions under the
specific legislation will still apply—even though their
restrictions and requirements could differ from those in the Kratom
Plant Act.

Consequently, it is advised to seek local expert counsel before
starting any business involving kratom, as it is still subject to
numerous restrictions and requirements.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.



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