Backlash Emerges Following Kratom Tea Case in Houaphanh

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Photo credit: health.kapook.com

Last week’s arrest of two young people in Houaphanh Province for selling kratom tea gained the attention of social media users, who called for legalization of the drug.

The high-profile arrest of the two teenagers sparked debate among social media users, many of whom believe that Kratom should be legalized.

The leaves of the Kratom plant (Mitragyna speciosa) are known to have opioid properties and can produce a stimulant effect.  The leaves are sometimes boiled into a type of tea and sold online, with the concoction routinely spotted on sale at restaurants in Vientiane frequented by youth.

Many on social media have questioned the harshness of the aforementioned case in light of the fact that the police could be focusing on more pressing issues.

Some social media users claimed that kratom is not as dangerous as authorities make it out to be, noting that it is already legal in many developed countries and is widely used as a type of herbal medicine.

A couple arrested over selling bottles of kratom tea | Photo credit: Jomphuek

“Thailand legalized kratom and marijuana and made use of these plants to help their economies. Why, instead, wouldn’t authorities concentrate on those who inhale laughing gas from balloons or other types of chemical drugs?” asked another social media user.

However, some netizens said they believed that the arrest was justified and that officers were simply doing their jobs.

“Educating youth on their wrongdoings is our Lao way of dealing with such problems. These individuals would have been imprisoned in some neighboring countries,” said another person on the social media platform, pointing out that the youths were fortunate to not be thrown in jail.

The Lao government and its relevant sectors have not yet addressed the issue in question despite opinions aired online.

However, in July, the Lao Ministry of Health sent a letter to the Thai Trade Ambassador in Laos explaining that the kratom plant remains illegal in Laos.

“This includes growing, possessing, buying, selling, processing, and storing the plant, as well as importing or supplying it to Laos,” the letter read.