Khairy Jamaluddin, a former Health Minister of Malaysia, has proposed exporting locally-produced Ketum to countries where it is already legal. In his opinion, this could provide additional income for smallholders and generate revenue for Malaysia instead of destroying plants. Mr. Jamaluddin has suggested that a ‘ketum board’ should be created to regulate the cultivation of the plant and ensure it is only for exports. He stated, “since other countries allow the use of ketum, I don’t see any problem with us exporting it. We establish tight procedures, like only allowing the ketum board to buy and process the plant for export. Smallholders can sell their products and generate additional income every month instead of getting arrested by the police (for possessing ketum leaves).” It is worth noting that Ketum is currently illegal in Malaysia because it contains mitragynine, which is listed as a controlled substance under the Poisons Act. The export of Ketum for medicinal purposes has previously been proposed, as Malaysia seeks to find profitable solutions for its illegal Ketum industry. In July of last year, the Kedah Government completed a proposal paper on the export of Ketum leaves for medicinal purposes to Thailand. As someone who supports the legalisation of cannabis and the decriminalisation of other drugs, I believe that this is a step in the right direction for Malaysia. Providing smallholders with additional income and generating revenue from exports is a beneficial way to approach a currently criminalised substance. Hopefully, the government will consider this proposal and move towards a more progressive and effective solution.
As a disclaimer, the opinions expressed in this article don’t reflect those of High Thailand.
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