Padang Besar MP calls for legalising of ketum, hemp farming

PETALING JAYA: Padang Besar MP Zahidi Zainul Abidin has urged the government to legalise the cultivation of hemp and ketum plants following the move by Thailand to remove the two from its dangerous drugs list.

He said farmers are requesting for these two plants to be allowed to be grown for commercial purposes as there is high demand globally.

Ketum, which is known as kratom in Thailand, is a tropical leaf long used as a herbal remedy but which some health regulators around the world have criticised as potentially unsafe.

It has become increasingly popular in the United States, where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against its use, citing risks of addiction and abuse.

The change to the Thai law meant the general public will be able to consume and sell kratom legally, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said last week. More than 1,000 prisoners convicted of offences related to the drug will be freed.

Zahidi Zainul Abidin wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Zahidi Zainul Abidin.

Zahidi said hemp had the same qualities as kenaf (a cannabis variety) but smoking this does not make one intoxicated.

“Hemp is a variety of plant similar to kenaf and can be used to make furniture in addition to producing a form of tar which is used to treat cancer.

“The global demand for hemp is high and fetches a good price,” Harian Metro reported him as saying last night after a function in Yan, Kedah.

He said all requests and proposals need to be studied comprehensively first whether Malaysia can afford to take the same step as Thailand in the legalising of hemp and ketum farming.

In 2018, Zahidi who is a former Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Association (Risda) chairman, had suggested that each family be allowed to cultivate five ketum plants each as this can help locals with their livelihood especially smallholders.

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