Revisit proposal to legalise ketum leaves for export, new income for Kedah – Awang Hashim

11 Dec 2023 09:00am
Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

KUALA LUMPUR - In the lush landscapes of Peninsula Malaysia, the traditional healing properties of ketum leaves have stood the test of time, offering relief from ailments like back pain, fever, and cough.

However, lurking behind the shadows are irresponsible parties tainting its reputation by mixing the leaf properties with various substances thus creating a harmful drug leading to its classification as a controlled substance in the country.

“There is a high demand, from Thailand, Australia and others because it is being used for medicinal purposes.

“We need to look back at the previous proposal. If it is being exported, it will be a new income for the state and spillover for the farmers so they do not just rely on padi and rubber,” he said during a recent interview with Sinar Daily.

According to the law, it was legal to plant ketum. However, it is illegal once you want to consume it.

“I dont know what is the purpose of planting, we need to get back to the logic of why it is not illegal to plant (in the first place).

“Maybe (it can be used) for export to Thai for medicinal purpose, but (at the moment) it is not authorised because the federal government has to approve,” he said.

Ketum, Awang said, was a good plant for medicinal purposes but misused by irresponsible parties when it was mixed with dangerous substances and resulted in getting high and endangering the consumers when consumed.

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The Human Resorce Deputy Human Minister added that Pendang was one of the districts with Ketum leaves problem but he had worked closely with the police in the area in an effort to combat the problem.

“We are taking aggressive in this against drugs, more specifically the to reduce Ketum leaves problems in Pendang including drug addicts we have not achieved the target that we set yet but it has shown an improvement,” he said,

Previously, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor had proposed legalising the export of ketum leaves for medicinal purposes.

He had urged the federal government to legalise the export of Ketum leaves to meet the high demand by pharmaceutical companies, a proposal that would be discussed by the state executive council before being presented to the federal government.

Former Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin previously revealed that the use of ketum leaves for medicinal purposes was being conducted during his tenure.

In April, he had also reiterated the call for the government to look into the prospect of allowing for the export of ketum leaves to countries where consumption of the substance was legal.

During the Keluar Sekejap podcast, Khairy said exporting ketum leaves to countries such as the United States, which he claimed has a billion dollar ketum industry could help the government in generating much needed revenue instead of destroying such plants.