By MAURICE MURRAY, Associated PressHONG KONG (AP) An anti-Kratom lawmaker has said she will not allow the drug to be legal in her home country of Myanmar, which is grappling with a growing heroin epidemic.
Kumtattu Phutang said in an interview with the state-run New Vision newspaper on Sunday that her government is preparing a bill that would ban the drug in the country, a move the United States considers illegal.
“I am not going to allow Kratom to be used as medicine in Myanmar, I want to perish if it becomes legal,” she said in the interview.
Kratom is a herb commonly used in Thailand and Indonesia to treat opioid addiction.
Its popularity is increasing as countries including Myanmar and Malaysia struggle with an opioid crisis.
Phutang’s comments come amid a national debate over the use of the drug, which has prompted calls for its removal from the drug list.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) last month banned Kratom from being prescribed to people under 21 in a separate crackdown.
The DEA has also issued warnings to drug users in the U.K., Australia and Australia that use the drug may put people at risk of death.
Kom-Tung University drug professor Dr. Keng Maung-yin said last week that if the drug is legal in Myanmar then it could be legal for anyone in the world.
Phuang is the youngest member of parliament in Myanmar and a lawmaker from the ruling United Nationalities Party (UNM).
She is also the youngest female member of the legislature.
She has been one of the strongest opponents of a ban on Kratom in Myanmar.
The UNM has said it would not back the ban, but it also says it is unlikely to support a ban for people over the age of 18.
The United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees has called on Myanmar to allow people over 18 to use the substance.
The government says it has not yet determined how to enforce the ban.___