Entrepreneurs in Kedah have now combined the art of deep-frying and drugs.
According to Mohammed Nazer Mustafa of the Kedah National Anti-Drug Agency, ketum snacks were found in Penang, and they are crunchy. “The way it is produced is very easy, just by dipping the ketum leaves in flour and frying it as usual, then they can eat it like a normal snack as it is crunchy.”
Nazer said the homemade ketum snacks are not widespread yet, but is worried that the trend could spread to Kedah—where most of the country’s ketum is grown—and be served in stalls along with ketum juice in coffee.
He called for ketum to be placed under the Dangerous Drugs Act to outlaw the cultivation of ketum, which is currently legal, and explains why there are at least 81 active ketum growers in Kedah. What growers do to save themselves from prosecution, Nazer added, is to have customers pluck the leaves themselves—because while growing ketum isn’t an offence, harvesting them is.
Besides its opiate-like effects, ketum has been long been used here and in Thailand as a traditional wonder drug to treat everything from diarrhoea to pain to depression to premature ejaculation to malaria. However, abuse of ketum falls under the Poisons Act, which comes with a hefty fine and jail time.