Kedah Assembly urges Putrajaya to legalize Ketum leaves for export purposes

According to the Governor of Kedah (MB) Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, Malaysia should legalize ketone leaves so that the plant can be exported to meet the high demand of pharmaceutical companies.

He suggested that the federal government should allow the export of ketone plant leaves as it will help the growers of ketone plants as well as the government to get tax revenue in the form of exported leaves.

Sanusi, a member of PAS, a Malaysian Islamist political party, said ketum leaves, especially those grown in Kedah, are in high demand in neighboring Thailand where it is widely used for medical purposes.

He said the export of ketum could develop into a lucrative industry.

“There is a high demand for ketum from Kedah in Thailand, which can fetch up to RM150 per kilo, while the local market here is only RM30 per kilo. Thailand has the technology to extract ketones into various health products and the ketones grown in Kedah are of a high grade compared to those grown in neighboring countries,” he said at a press conference yesterday (March 16), according to the New Straits Times.

“Therefore, by legalizing its export, ketum can be developed into a profitable industry in Kedah.”

Sanusi acknowledged that his proposal could be controversial, but stressed that it would also help reduce law enforcement activities and arrests resulting from smuggling ketum leaves across the country’s borders.

According to the Muslim party lawmaker, the Malaysian government has spent significant resources to combat the illegal export of ketum to Thailand because the plant was included in the 1952 Poison Act.

Under the act, it is not illegal to grow the trees, but it is illegal to harvest the leaves and process them.

According to Noor Azreyanti Ishak, director of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in Kuala Jeddah, an attempt to smuggle 1.2 tons of ketum leaves out of Malaysia was foiled last month.

Among them were 120 black bags containing an estimated RM216,000 worth of ketone leaves.

Sanusi clarified that he did not make the move because he was high on drugs.

“I want to make it very clear that I was not high on ketones when I made this statement. I’ve been told that our law enforcement agencies have been working very hard to combat the illegal export of ketones, and I have a lot of respect for them. We are spending a lot of resources to fight ketone gum smuggling, but the question I want to ask is: What if we legalize this activity and the government benefits from it by imposing an export tax?

“So I hope this issue gets the attention it deserves because it’s our loss. We have a lot of crops on our land, but it is considered illegal. If we legalize it (export), it would be better,” Sanusi was quoted as saying.

He said Kedah was ready to become a legal ketone gum hub, adding that the state government could appoint any of its subsidiaries as agents to collect all ketone gum crops and act as the sole legal exporter.

“The government can collect duties from the trade.”

The Kedah MP said he hoped the federal government would pay serious attention to the proposal and look at it in good faith.

“Ketum is widely grown in Kedah, so it would be better if we allow its export. We have ketum trees and we can grow them, but we cannot process them, even though ketum has medical value,” he said.

He stressed that he does not approve of the abuse of ketum by mixing it with banned substances.

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