Whenever the topic of ketum and hemp pops up, most Malaysians would generally think of the negative aspects of the plant. In fact, its misuse makes those who distribute this material a target for the authorities like Dr Ganja, Lukman Mohamad and numerous ketum-selling uncles in the country.
Recently though, 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.
ICYMI, the change to the Thai law meant the general public will be able to consume and sell the plants legally. More than 1,000 prisoners convicted of offences related to the drug will also be freed.
According to FMT, Zahidi said farmers are requesting for these two plants to be allowed to be grown for commercial purposes as there is high demand globally.
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,” he said.
Zahidi further explained that 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.
To refresh, hemp is the same species of plant as cannabis but unlike it, hemp contains very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which means it does not get you “high”.
Hemp seed oil is also growing in popularity because it provides a long list of health benefits that have been confirmed through an ongoing body of research.
Meanwhile, ketum which is known as kratom in Thailand is a tropical leaf used as an herbal remedy. While the plant is found to be an effective painkiller according to Yale and USM scientists, some health regulators around the world have criticised it as potentially unsafe.