Kratom kraze: leaf lovers rush to market new narcotic drinks in Thailand

As the reefer craze sweeps Thailand, another decriminalized narcotic forgotten in the cannabis haze is about to go mainstream and spread across the country.

A year after kratom became legal, recent legislation now allows its use in products such as drinks, candies, etc. Beverage entrepreneurs are getting ready to lose the juice, which means fans of the big veined leaf and its alkaloid high have more to look forward to than sipping bitter homebrew.

“That’s good. That means I can get it FDA approved and sell it in retail stores,” said Jake Coyner, who for a year has been infusing the leaves into a soft drink called OG Kratom.

During that time, Coyner went from handcrafting dozens of bottles to producing 2,400 bottles a month in an OEM bottling facility.

From today it is legal to cultivate and sell the psychoactive folk remedy “kratom”
OG Kratom’s Jake Coyner is experimenting with new Kratom drinks. Photo: courtesy

Chawanaporn Prasert, an online merchant who sells kratom powder, said the change to free side products – something that is still banned for cannabis – is better for consumers.

“It is better to process kratom leaf into processed products because who is going to spend time chewing kratom leaves?” said Chawanaporn. “If you don’t turn it into commodities, you won’t be able to sell.”

Patcharaporn “Fhy” Kongniwatsiri, founder of health drink company MeJuice, began developing a range of products, from kratom-infused drinks to painkiller sprays.

“We’ve actually developed some products and want to make a small batch of it before it’s legal, but it looks like we can now work to try and get the FDA and whatever it takes,” he said. she declared.

She hopes to have the first of what she has described as an “adaptogenic drink” – lingo for herbs that help with anxiety and well-being – on the market by the end of this year. Maybe a “Sparkling Kratom” or a tea drink.

“Earl Gray’s isn’t perfect yet, but I like it,” she said.

Thailand has the world’s fourth largest energy drink market, worth more than 20 billion baht ($525.5 million) annually. Last month, Pepsi Co. brought New York-based Rockstar to market.

While Thailand’s Beverage Industry Association did not return calls seeking comment, a longtime beverage evangelist was skeptical of the mass marketing of Kratom.

Patcharaporn “Fhy” Kongniwatsiri and his line of MeJuice drinks. Photo: courtesy

“For growth, I think there is a chance, but the market is relatively small,” said Thanakorn Kuptajit, former president of the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association.

He doubts it will become as prevalent as energy drinks.

“If you ask me about the future of kratom: it’s an alternative choice,” he added. “Since it was legalized, I’ve been watching if it’s going to take off, but it hasn’t been much.”

He also wondered if the processing needed to pass FDA review would result in a desirable product.

Ittirit “Kevin” Charusiri, another kratom drink maker already on the market, thinks legislation has introduced tougher controls that will force him to reformulate his Red Cap Craft Soda, for which he hired the most infamous aficionado of kratom. Kratom from Thailand.

“I made it underground; distribute it to friends,” Ittirit said. “When kratom was decriminalised, there weren’t really any rules in place. From what I understand, you just can’t boil kratom leaves. I had to change the process of manufacturing, going from boiling pure leaves to using extracts, however, I feel the actual product loses some of its charm and flavor.

However, he does not expect the new rules to have a significant impact on his business.

Ittirit said he was motivated to make a kratom soda after deciding to quit alcohol.

In fact, the buzz given by Kratom has given alcoholics a new social lubricant and a reason to return to the bar without the buzzkill, the false pleasure of sipping mocktails.

John Bailey of Bloom, a marketplace for wellness products including CBD and cannabis, said Kratom has reopened social avenues that were closed when it dried up.

“I think socializing is really hard; alcohol is the main thing, which is kind of sad, but it’s good to hang out with people and have a laugh,” he said. “With Kratom, I felt happy, engaged and felt much better in the morning. It was a great alternative to alcohol.

Ever since beverage production became legal, Bloom has been looking to collaborate with OG Kratom’s Coyner and would like to produce a light, lemony Kratom spritz.

“Kratom has a bit of a reputation as a lo-so drink, we’ll try to mark it a little higher,” Bailey said.

Photo: courtesy

Kratom is a leaf found throughout Southeast Asia. Although it is not psychoactive, it has a stimulating effect at low doses. It can relieve pain and create a feeling of euphoria similar to a “body high”. At higher doses, it can make users drowsy.

It should be emphasized that Kratom is an absolutely addictive substance. While it has many therapeutic benefits, its alkaloid content tickles the same dopamine and serotonin receptors as opiates, and regular use can lead to addiction – and very difficult withdrawal symptoms.

Although the new regulations expand the product possibilities, a number of controls remain in place. Growers wishing to import and export the plant must obtain a license from the Office of the Narcotics Control Board. Kratom leaves cannot be sold to minors, pregnant women by the Ministries of Justice and Public Health. Those caught doing so will be fined THB 30,000.

Additionally, selling the leaf in schools, national parks, zoos, or in vending machines can result in a fine of THB 50,000.

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