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In a decision that should shock and excite fans of kratom across the globe, late 2018 saw the Thai government move to amend the country’s drug law allowing the use of kratom, the locally-cultivated herbal remedy that has been used for decades as an all-natural stimulant and pain killer, as well as medical marijuana products.

Why is This Monumental News?

The legal status of kratom is currently up for debate across the world, with most countries banning distribution and use under the “Thailand defense” – the fact that it could be banned in its country of origin should be indicative of something. (Most proponents believe the ban was a result of the passing of the Kratom Act 2486 in 1943; the rise in use of Mitragyna speciosa in lieu of opium was becoming prohibitively expensive. The move was the government’s attempt to regain control over opium trade.)

With Thailand relaxing its stance on the use of M. speciosa, other countries and regions may begin to reconsider their own skewed views of the plant, if not legalizing use then at least allocating funds for more research to prove whether kratom holds true medical potential at all (which hordes of anecdotal reports already support).

What’s the Deal with Kratom?

For those not in the know, Mitragyna speciosa or kratom is a plant that grows wild in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The leaves of the kratom plant can be chewed raw, brewed into tea, or crushed and turned into powder that can be taken by mixing it into a drink or as a capsule, to deliver results akin to opioid medicines like morphine and codeine, without the added fear of addiction or overdose.

Chemicals called alkaloids are responsible for producing the medicinal effects of M. speciosa.  Depending on the dosage, the alkaloids can induce a stimulating or sedating effect, or a combination of both.

After this ground-breaking December decision, it is believed that officials in neighboring Malaysia are also considering following Thailand’s lead, allowing locals access to alternative herbal remedies.

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