KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Drug Prevention Association (Pemadam) wants ketum leaf abuse, including drinking of ketum water, to be quickly listed as prohibited under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
Pemadam president Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum said the relevant authorities should view ketum abuse seriously as it was not only detrimental to human health but could also be a threat to national security if not stemmed early.
He said ketum abuse was currently placed under the Poisons Act 1952, although drinking ketum water (obtained by boiling ketum leaves in water) could adversely affect the nervous system and make the consumer addicted to the drink as ketum contained mitragynine, an indole alkaloid, with the addictiveness as strong as that for morphine.
Mohd Johari said the absence of a specific law to enable stern action be taken against the selling of ketum had contributed to the rising number of ketum abuse cases among young people in the country.
“Long-term consumption of ketum water can kill as from studies done, it was found that the sap in the ketum leaves could damage the human nervous system,” he told Bernama.
“Ketum abuse is just as dangerous as taking drugs, hence the matter should not be taken lightly by the authorities, particularly the Home Ministry and National Anti-Drug Agency.
“Ketum abuse is seen as increasingly serious in the northern states of the peninsula, Terengganu and Pahang, and we fear it may spread to other states.
“We at Pemadam are disappointed that the authorities have not hastened to gazette ketum abuse under the Dangerous Drugs Act, to allow for appropriate action be taken against the selling and consumption of ketum,” he added.
Mohd Johari said a fine of up to RM2,000 for possessing ketum under the Poisons Act was no deterrent to the public as individuals continued to sell ketum water openly even from roadside stalls, or to consume it.
He said what was even more worrying, following information received by Pemadam, was the smuggling of ketum leaves by locals to Thailand as the Thai government had banned the growing, selling and consumption of ketum.
“In Thailand, the authorities will chop down ketum trees and fine the culprits 500 baht for each ketum leaf found as they are well aware of the ketum menace to health and national security.
“However, in Malaysia, there is no law to ban the growing of ketum. As a result, some individuals are willing to plant ketum instead of continuing with padi or rubber cultivation on their land in order to earn a higher income,” he said. — Bernama