The government is planning to table amendments to the Poisons Act 1952 to address the issue of ketum (kratom) abuse in the country, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.
According to him, the proposed amendments would be tabled during the next Parliamentary session in October.
The amendments would address issues pertaining to supplies, export and the cultivation of ketum, said Dr Lee.
“The proposed amendments is probably not going to encourage the mass cultivation of ketum, unless in certain situations such as research.
“But the ministry will deliberate details of the proposed amendments with views from stakeholders,” he said.
“Hopefully, this will be able to address ketum issues which have a negative effect on society,” he added.
Dr Lee was answering to a question raised by Datuk Shabudin Yahaya (Umno-Tasek Gelugor) in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday (July 11), who asked the Health Ministry’s efforts in managing the usage of ketum among Malaysians and patients for medicinal purposes.
Shabudin said ketum abuse had adverse side effects on individuals, adding that if the issue was not addressed, it could become the nation’s number one enemy.
He added that the scourge of ketum abuse was not only found in the northern states, but had spread throughout the country, including the East Coast and Klang Valley.
Dr Lee, in reply to Shabudin, said the government was studying the best method to stop mass cultivation of ketum.
Datuk Seri Bung Mokhtar Radin (Umno-Kinabatangan), pointing out the medicinal qualities of ketum, asked if the government had any plans to control the cultivation of ketum for public interest.
“Ketum has been proven to have cured many diseases. Why can’t we regulate the cultivation of ketum?”
Dr Lee, in response, said ketum had became a health issue among Malaysians, as many youths abused ketum along with alcohol and other hard drugs, such as amphetamines and methamphetamine.
“That is the problem.
"Many youths also used ketum as a gateway drug. After developing an addiction, they would then abuse harder drugs.
“That is why the government has no intentions to encourage the cultivation of ketum. It is seen as a social problem that needs to be addressed.”