Local plantations in southern Mudon Township experience theft as young people mistakenly believe they grow kratom

May 3, 2017

HURFOM: Young people near Kamawat City, Mudon Township, Mon State, are stealing leaves from chukla kyine trees on local plantations in the mistaken belief that they are kratom leaves, according to a local plantation owner.

The leaves of the chukla kyine — a large species of tree — are similar in both appearance and taste as the kratom leaf. Kratom is known locally as ‘opium leaf’ for its opiate like properties when ingested and is commonly used as a recreational drug.

When night comes, young people arrive with a group on motorbikes. They stop their motorbikes in the street and steal the leaves [of the chukla kyine]. They mistakenly consider the leaves as kratom leaves. [Chukla kyine leaves] are very similar to those of kratom both in appearance and taste,” said a resident of Taw Gu village, Mudon Township, who lives near a chukla kyine plantation.

Being similar to kratom leaves, chukla kyine leaves have a bitter taste, but when they are fully grown they are bigger than kratom leaves. However, the younger, less mature leaves of chukla kyine trees are often difficult to distinguish from kratom leaves.

As young people in many villages in Mon State continue to abuse kratom leaves, the leaves have become scarce, driving up the price. Previously, a single kratom leaf cost 100 kyat; however, it now costs double the price. The price of the leaf is also dependent on the size of the leaf.

In 2016, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Burmese government launched anti-drug campaigns against the use of kratom in Mon State, resulting in the destruction of large stashes of kratom. However, earlier this year, these campaigns were halted and young people have begun again to abuse kratom again.





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