THE government is planning to table amendments to the Poisons Act 1952 to address the issue of ketum (kratom) abuse in the country, said Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye (pic).
He said the proposed changes would be tabled in the next parliamentary session in October.
The amendments would address issues pertaining to the supply, export and cultivation of ketum, Dr Lee said at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
“The proposed amendments are 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 address ketum issues, which have a negative effect on society,” he added.
Datuk Shabudin Yahaya (Umno-Tasek Gelugor) had asked about the Health Ministry’s efforts in managing the usage of ketum among Malaysians and for those who used it for medicinal purposes.
Shabudin said ketum abuse had adverse side effects on users and if not addressed, he claimed, could become the nation’s number one enemy.
The scourge of ketum abuse is not only in northern states but has spread throughout the country, including the east coast and the Klang Valley, he added.
In response, Dr Lee said the government was studying the best method to stop the mass cultivation of ketum.
Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (Umno-Kinabatangan) said ketum had medicinal qualities and asked if the government had any plans to regulate its cultivation.
Ketum is proven to have cured many diseases, he said.
“Why can’t we regulate the cultivation of ketum?” he asked.
Dr Lee said many youths were abusing ketum 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 intention to encourage the cultivation of ketum. It is seen as a social problem that needs to be addressed,” he added.