Spirituality

Kratom… [prohibition & racism]…

Repressive enforcement of the kratom ban in Thailand… was responsible for about 3,000 extrajudicial killings between February to April 2003.

Thaksin’s policy also fuelled conflict in the predominantly Muslim southern provinces where in the following years at least 5,700 people were killed, especially among the ethnic Malay population. Kratom law enforcement in the south of the country reached devastating levels in the following decade, including mass arrests and military operations to cut down trees significantly increasing political tensions with Muslim communities. Criminal prosecutions of the use of kratom leaves rose from about 1,000 in 2004-2005 to 6,000 in 2009 to almost 19,000 in 2018; and kratom-related court cases represented about one sixth of the total of more than 300,000 drug-related court cases in Thailand between January and October 2019. “By associating kratom with the Malay insurgent groups and vilifying the substance, the police have been able to constantly monitor and invade the communities of Malay peoples under the pretense that they are policing kratom.” This led to “the emergence of a new conflict between government officers and advocates of cultural rights in the region”… Men primarily chew the leaves or drink kratom juice or tea in the morning to improve work productivity and to combat fatigue, and in the evenings to relax and socialise. Kratom therefore also serves as a substitute for alcohol among Muslims… United Nations Office of Drug Control [UNODC] started to produce regular updates on Current [Novel Psychoactive Substances] NPS Threats, also meant to provide input to the WHO Working Group. Kratom features prominently in the second update report in January 2020, including a graph on ‘NPS detected in fatalities reported to the UNODC EWA in 2019’ which showed that by far the largest amount (46%) of reported fatalities were related to kratom, even higher than those related to synthetic opioids (17%). The text makes clear that this was based on only 47 cases reported by the US and Thailand, both countries with millions of regular kratom users, and clarifies that post-mortem “identification of an NPS does not necessarily mean it was causal to the outcome”. In fact, there “were no cases in which kratom was deemed to have caused or have significantly contributed to death”, due to other circumstances and the presence of more toxic substances, mainly opioids. But in the midst of the political attention and scaremongering around NPS, the tone was set by the report’s biased presentation of data…

Original Article (Transnational Institute):
Kratom: the creation of a threat
Artwork Fair Use: ThorPorre

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