Planting ketum not a crime, says IGP

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PUTRAJAYA: While there is no law against planting Kratom or “ketum” as it is commonly known, owning, distributing and processing the plant is a crime, Khalid Abu Bakar said.

The Inspector-General of Police said ketum had properties that could intoxicate, which was why those who consumed it could be charged under the Poisons Act 1952.

“If anybody wants to use ketum for its pharmaceutical value, they would need permission from the Health Ministry,” the nation’s top cop told reporters in Putrajaya today.

He was commenting on the proposal made by the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) to plant ketum on a commercial scale.

Earlier today Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Risda’s proposal should be studied first as selling ketum water was an offence under the Poisons Act 1952.

Ismail Sabri said he would instruct Risda’s Director-General Mohd Najib A Samad to submit a report on the matter.

Last Tuesday, Risda chairman Zahidi Zainul Abidin said the agency would submit a request to the government for approval to plant ketum as a means of helping increase the income of rubber smallholders due to the high demand for the leaves in the US and Europe.

Kratom or Mitragyna speciosa is a tree native to Southeast Asia.

Its leaves are used either as a stimulant, or sedative as well as to treat opiate addiction. Many also claim ketum is effective in treating arthritis.