Indonesia Bans Kratom In 2022: Read The Full Story

11 November 2019
Indonesia Bans Kratom In 2022: Read The Full Story

PONTIANAK, SP – The Indonesian National Narcotics Agency (BNN) is going to impose a ban on Kratom and make it illegal starting in 2020. The BNN's statement is based on the results of the National Committee on Narcotics and Psychotropic Change in 2017 which said that kratom should be included in the narcotics group I. During the transition the buying and selling kratom is still legal.

This assessment is going against the will of the kratom farmers and entrepreneurs and what they want. In the last year the Ministry of Health has been intensely researching and discussing the legality of kratom with them and with the Kapuas Hulu Regional Government which is the area known as the most fertile area for Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) in West Kalimantan. Even in the very new Regulation of the Minister of Health of the Republic of Indonesia Number 44 of 2019 concerning Amendments to the Classification of Narcotics which was promulgated on October 18, 2019, kratom was not included in the list of narcotics on group 1.

Head of the Narcotics Laboratory Center of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), Mufti Djusnir explained that "Kratom leaves contain compounds that are harmful to your health, if used at low doses it will cause a stimulant effect, while use in high doses it can cause sedative effects (cause sedation or drowsiness, put one to sleep, sometimes to the point of loss of consciousness, like a state of anaesthesia, coma and death),"he said while attending the Focus Group Discussion on Kratom being held between the Head of the BNN from Jakarta and the West Kalimantan government officials in Pontianak.

Head of the Narcotics Laboratory Center of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), Mufti Djusnir explained that "Kratom leaves contain compounds that are harmful to your health

"Because we support the results of the committee team meeting, so until 2022 there is no prohibition, only we request that after 2022 that Kratom is placed into the group of narcotics on schedule 1. This prohibition is because the benefits from the plant are far less than its disadvantages, "he said in a Focus Group Discussion on Kratom Plants between the Head of the National Narcotics Agency of the Republic of Indonesia and West Kalimantan Forkopimda in Pontianak, Monday (5/11).

To explain, kratom is 13 times stronger than morphine. Based on research, the therapeutic index value is very small.

"If it is continuously consumed, kratom will cause symptoms of addiction, respiratory depression and even death," he said.

Mufti also corrects the assumption that equates kratom with coffee. He said, the statement was baseless and was a mere opinion. He explained, in low to moderate doses, which are 1-5 milligrams, kratom has a pleasant stimulant effect. But at higher doses, between 5-15 milligrams give symptoms such as opiate compounds, namely analgesics and sedation, so it is very different.

"The problem so far is the consumption of kratom without proper dosage," he said.

He also added, based on data compiled by his side, there have been found cases of victims who died from the use of kratom. Both kratom that was consumed alone, or consumed together with other drugs.

"The fact is there is data on single deaths due to kratom and also from multidrug use. such as cold medicines like tramadol," he said.

From literature he explained, the use of kratom has existed since the early 19th century. Consumed as a substitute for opium and causing addiction.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drugs Addiction (EMCDDA) survey in 2008 and 2011 also showed kratom to be the most traded New Psychoactive Subtance (NPS). The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime or the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said they included kratom as one of the substances included in the 2013 Plant Base Substance NPS.

So no wonder, if the National Committee on Narcotics and Psychotropic Change in 2017 classified kratom plants as a narcotic group I.

He explained the committee team consisted of the Director General of Pharmaceutical Services of the Ministry of Health, Deputy Chairman of the National Narcotics Agency, National Narcotics Agency for National Narcotics Agency, The Indonesian Food & Drugs Agency (BPOM), medical pharmacists, and a number of related parties.

"They have been meeting many times up until at the end of 2017 when they decided to put  kratom into the class one narcotics group," he said.

If Kratom is legalized, according to him, there will be a number of problems. Among other things, the control of substances used for recreational use has never existed in Indonesia, and from the experience of some countries we know that it is difficult to deal with addictions due to kratom use. He said many cases occurred but were not made public. In addition, since 2016, the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency of Indonesia has banned the use of kratom in traditional medicines and health supplements.

With the ban later, automatically there will only be two years left for the transition. In fact, the decision of the National Committee on Narcotics and Psychotropic Change has been around since 2017. In this case BNN will encourage the an alternative to kratom plants, especially in West Kalimantan, conduct socialization and prevention of the dangers of kratom use with related parties, and encourage relevant ministries to prepare policies in accordance with the end of the transition period in Indonesia.

"The community will be given alternatives which will be properly mapped out first, after that we will see what plants are most suitable so that people’s livelihoods do not decline," he said.

The head of the National Narcotics Agency, Heru Winarko.

The head of the National Narcotics Agency, Heru Winarko added, we will slowly encourage people to replant the environment where Kratom grows. His team came to West Kalimantan, to convey the results of research from the Narcotics and Psychotropic Classification Committee. This needs to be said so that there is a transition period.

"In the new and updated law from the Department of Health of Indonesia it turns out that Kratom has not yet been included group 1 narcotics. There are four things that have not been included from a total of 75, including kratom" he explained.

However, the arrival of the head of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) was seen as being a bit strange. Previously, Kratom business entrepreneurs and the local government of Kapuas Hulu had discussed Kratom issues with the Ministry of Health. Although there are no definitive results, the research team from the Ministry of Health came to Kapuas Hulu some time ago and brought a sign of fresh air to the endemic  kratom crop cultivators.

Head of the Kapuas Hulu “Anugerah Bumi Hijau” a Kratom farmers' cooperative, Albertus Anton said the BNN was like imposing its will by describing their findings about kratom. Facts and research are not actually elevant.

"The things being coordinated at that time on February 27, 2019, the BNN had also held a FGD (Forum Group Discussion) facilitated by its pharmacy department. "Where the FGD results are the results of their committee meeting," he said.

The results of the National Committee on Narcotics and Psychotropic Change last February were then recommended to the Ministry of Health so that Kratom would be included in the national narcotics list.

"Responding to the committee meeting recommendations, the Ministry of Health together with their R&D team made a Round Table Discussion (RTD) in Solo on July 8-9, 2019," he said.

The results of the RTD in Solo agreed that there would be cross-sectoral studies including research on economic, ecological and health aspects. From 26 August to 4 September 2019, the Ministry of Health team came to West Kalimantan.

"The results of empirical research are that kratom is not dangerous according to the news in the media," he explained.

The results of the study were accommodated by the Ministry of Health through Regulation of the Minister of Health of the Republic of Indonesia Number 44 of 2019 concerning Changes in the Classification of Narcotics. In the regulation promulgated October 18, 2019, Kratom was not included in the list of narcotics group 1.

"So it should be final, there is no need to bring another round," he said.

Kapuas Hulu Regent, AM Nasir, said that that Kratom has been cultivated by the community since tens of years ago. The trend has also increased in the last five years. Today, tens of thousands of Kapuas Hulu residents depend on kratom.

"People are upset waiting for the government's decision. But during a meeting in Jakarta, it was decided that the local government of West Kalimantan can regulate. So it can still work but is still under surveillance from the central government of Jakarta. There must be an implementation of regulation,” he said.

During this time he considered the legality of kratom to be unclear. He admitted, that the Regional Government was notified when the National Committee on Narcotics and Psychotropic Change in 2017 decided kratom should be in the narcotics group I.

"We were told but this is talking about the law. If there are rules prohibiting it, we cannot do anything about it,"he said.

While talking about alternative or substitute for Kratom he was not convinced. In this case, the Regional Government helped farmers a lot when rubber prices dropped. For the fertile areas where kratom grows, a honey production project and fishing were provided. However, until now, only Kratom has really helped the local economy.

"Kratom has been pending on government decisions until now. There has been no decision until now. But now we have a decision. This is until 2022. We are only have one question and that is if it is still allowed then we need trade rules and regulations,” he explained.

Buying and selling kratom is often only done individually, without a business structure. Buying and selling takes place between different countries and as a result, there is no state income.

"There must be a legal business framework , Kapuas Hulu is the main producer of Kratom, what does this region get from it? This is the question. We will make rules again, this is what we must discuss. There must be rules, which are more detailed, "he said.

From the BNN's response, Nasir said they would involve the trade ministry to take care of this matter, as long as Kratom was still legal.

"Later we will also have other efforts with the Provincial Government. Because 2022 is coming soon. This Kratom cannot be managed as we wish. There are rules that must involve the ministry. There is hope again, "he said.

Legislation loophole...??

For legislation, there is a gap that can be used for kratom cultivation in West Kalimantan. One of them is through the Republic of Indonesia Minister of Health Regulation (Permenkes) Number 10 of 2013 concerning the Import and Export of Narcotics, Psychotropics, and Pharmaceutical Precursors for Narcotics, Psychotropic and Pharmaceutical Precursors Exports.

Article 20 of the Ministery of Health said that the export of narcotics is allowed as long as it fulfils a number of conditions. First, exports are carried out by a state-owned pharmaceutical wholesaler (PBF) company that has a special permit as an exporter from the Minister.

PBF is a company in the form of a legal entity that has permits for the procurement, storage, distribution of drugs and / or drug ingredients in large quantities in accordance with statutory provisions.

Second, the Minister of Health delegated the PBF special permit to the Director General. Third, if the state-owned PBF company cannot carry out its function in carrying out the export of narcotics, the Director General can give special permission to other state-owned PBF companies.

The only problem is whether the government wants to mobilize the Pharmacy Wholesaler to help kratom farmers in West Kalimantan. Moreover, the Governor of West Kalimantan, Sutarmidji said that he would still review the content and preparation for replacing the plant.

"So the study must still be done. Because kratom contains a substitute for morphine which can relieve pain. Is it possible this could be a raw material for medicine, but in the form of pharmaceutical production. This also has to be. Don't look for a replacement product and then kratom is still not allowed. It can't be like that, "he explained.

These opportunities are in line with the overseas kratom market. If the study is completed, Sutarmidji said he would invite the central government to discuss the results.

"We will continue to run this and coordinate with relevant parties. If there are arguments and besides they must be tested, "he said.

Of the many benefits of kratom, such as relieving pain and increasing fitness, he proposed that the central government do not just make partial rules.

"Moreover, kratom is not only in West Kalimantan, but also in Java. There are certainly going to be many regulations made by the central government and between various ministries. The regional government will invite many relevant parties to discuss and the results of these studies which must be carried out nationally," he explained.

While the matter of looking into alternative crops is being assessed, the goal is that the community does not have to wait long. He gave an example, in the construction of the Kijing International Port, 400 fishermen were certain to lose their jobs. They are also trained to be security guards, and process regional products.

"So it must be clear. Maybe we in the growing regions will make a comprehensive study, and some time we will invite the central government again, until hopefully there may be a new substitute model, "he said.


A Big Boost For The Economy

 In the journal 'Analysis of Kratom Farmer's Income in Helping Children's Education Funding in Sungai Uluk Palin Village' written by Anita, Aminuyati and Maria Ulfah from the FKIP Untan Pontianak Economic Education Study Program, it was concluded that the income of the kratom farming community in Sungai Uluk Palin Village, North Putussibau District, Kapuas Hulu achieves a better standard of living thanks to kratom farming.

With kratom selling prices ranging from Rp. 25-30 thousand per kilogram, farmers receive income between Rp1.5-8 million per month (US$110 to US$570). As a result their children’s education funding was seriously helped. In fact, some managed to even continue their studies to college.

Before cultivating kratom, school-age children in the village chose to simply graduate from elementary school. Some did go to high school / equivalent, but did not continue to the next level of education. Some also choose to work in Malaysia and some women choose to get married.

"The existence of kratom farming increases the income of the community, because the income derived from the sale of kratom greatly helps the local community, both to meet the living needs and financing of children's education," they wrote in an article published in the Equatorial Education and Learning Journal volume 8, April 2019.

Kratom is the answer to the financial difficulties of residents who previously depended on tapping rubber because the selling price of rubber has dropped and is so cheap, ranging only between Rp. 5-6 thousand per kilogram (US$0.40). In addition, the results of tapping rubber needs a 7-16 days before it can be sold by the farmers.

In addition, for the local Post Office in Pontianak, kratom has contributed 80 percent of their total income. If the amount of kratom shipments were calculated it is worth  about IDR 8-10 billion US$570,000 to US$750,000

"In one month there are hundred of tons of kratom being shipped. With the cost of sending one box of around Rp. 5 million. But there are still discounts. Most destinations go to America," said Head of Pontianak Giro Post Office, Zainal Hamid.

He explained that once the public could send kratom by private shipping companies. However, since the last few years, because of the directors' policy all the Kratom shipments had to go through an association that is working with the Post Office. He said, with the issuance of Permenkes Number 44 which had not included Kratom in the narcotics group, it meant that Post Office could still receive and send kratom shipments.

"Hopefully there are more studies for kratom. And there are special agencies or services that handle kratom. So that Kratom can generate tax and can increase revenue for the government, "

The Indonesian Ministry of Health Research Results


The Indonesian Ministry of Health's Research and Development Center for Research and Development at the Indonesian Ministry of Health proposed three things after going straight into researching kratom cultivation in Kapuas Hulu last August. One of them, they recommend that kratom be developed as a raw material for medicine.

"Our proposal is that development of kratom be used as a raw material for medicine, the establishment of a kratom trade system needs to be done, and the legal status of kratom needs to be decided immediately," said a researcher at the Research and Development Center of the SD-Yankes Research Institute of the Indonesian Ministry of Health, Ondi Dwi Sampurno, Friday (30/8) .

The Minister of Health commissioned the National Research and Development Agency to study Kratom in depth. This activity is to provide an overview of the use of kratom in the community, and its impact on aspects of health, ecology, and social economy. All are used as policy input in kratom settings.

"Our aim is to confirm the results of the RTD (Round Table Discussion) meeting on kratom with cross-sectors in Solo, and obtain samples for preclinical testing and phytochemical profiles of kratom leaves," he said.

The study was conducted in four districts, namely South Putussibau, North Putussibau, Kalis, and Embaloh Hilir. Sources of information were obtained from Bappeda, the Health Office, KKPH, PMD, the police, kratom associations, business actors whether collectors, farmers, and kratom processing workers. They also interviewed Kratom users, FORCLIME, Community Institutions, agricultural workers, village facilitators, sub-district officials, and regional health centres.

"Information gathering is done through discussions, interviews, environmental observations, collection of specimens such as seeds, seeds, cuttings, leaves, and powders.

The results showed kratom contains Mitragynine which is classified as a New Psychoactive Substance (NPS), so it is necessary to regulate its use and distribution. The Ministry of Health is currently working on the regulation.

Other results, from the health aspect, there was no change in the pattern of disease in the community after kratom consumption. They use it to increase stamina, reduce pain, gout, hypertension, diabetes, insomnia, wound healing, diarrhea, coughing, increase appetite, cholesterol, and for helping typhoid.

"There were no health complaints related to the use of kratom, nor the health impact on workers who work and interact with kratom. There were also no side effects after routine use, and they did not cause any dependency symptoms, "he said.

Kratom is consumed by boiling fresh leaves or powder, for drinking. Some respondents added honey, or orange juice. Some people use it to treat wounds by sprinkling squeezed leaves, or fine powder.

However, in processing and dry the kratom it was found that conditions did not meet hygienic causing microbial contamination such as Salmonella. They also found production facilities and processes that also do not meet workers occupational health standards.

While from the socio-economic aspect, kratom creates new jobs and increases family income. In Embaloh Hilir sub-district, 90 percent of the people earn their income from kratom businesses. As a result, the school dropout rate has drastically decreased, education has increased, and people are able to go to universities outside Kapuas Hulu region.

"Kratom keeps us busy, much better for farmers compared to rubber," he explained.

In addition, Kratom has also helped the land and water transportation business’s who transport the kratom around the region. Even a lot of people who used to consume alcohol changed to kratom consumption instead. In terms of crime, theft, fighting and commotion due to alcohol intoxication has also decreased.

"Kratom prices are standardized at the level of farmers and collectors, but have declined since the issue of banning kratom. Information circulating on social media both the prohibition and the danger of using kratom causes people to be afraid to plant and use kratom, "he explained.

The unclear status of legality means that Kratom's business has not been able to contribute to regional income for village funds. In the past kratom was only found in the forests and was used wood for furniture and land boundaries. Now, kratom is cultivated for the leaves which are of a high economic value.

From an ecological aspect, kratom is planted in yards, gardens, and river banks or open spaces. Kratom was chosen by the community because it grows fast, can be harvested after six months, so it can replace income from tapping rubber.

"Other crop choices are coffee, agarwood, cocoa, and fruits. "Most people grow kratom by monoculture," he explained.

Because it is planted by the river, kratom also functions to prevent river abrasion, greening and reforestation. Kratom is suitable for planting in Kapuas Hulu which often experiences vast flooding. Other plants cannot live in such a place. Kratom is also said to be able to reduce CO2 gas emissions.


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