Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri said he is considering the possibility of legalising krathom - Mitragyna speciosa - leaves with one of the options being to use the plant as a substitute in drug treatment programmes.

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But public opinion would need to be gauged first, he said. The idea could materialise if it is backed by scientific research and gains social acceptance.

Krathom is classified as a drug in the 5th category of the Narcotics Act, alongside cannabis and psychotropic mushroom species, but has lighter penalties than those drugs.

Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri believes legalising krathom would create benefits than if it continues to be banned as an illegal substance. He said krathom could serve as a solution for people suffering from stress or addicts wanting to stop using drugs.

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