Is a Cure for Meth Addiction Lurking in the Jihadist-Infested Jungles of Thailand?

You know what khat is, right? Well kratom is like that: a mild, leaf-shaped stimulant that gives you a barely noticeable buzz if you chew it for long enough. Both stimulants have also attracted the ire of politicians—while Home Secretary Theresa May has promised to ban khat from Britain soon, kratom has been outlawed in Thailand for the past 70 years. But recently the Thai Minister for Justice, Pradit Sintavanarong, announced that he wants the kratom leaf removed from the country’s illicit drugs list. He claims it could help wean addicts off harder stimulants, like methamphetamine.

Meth has been a big deal in Thailand for the last decade or so. It’s most commonly taken in a concoction known as yaba—a blend of meth and caffeine which comes in pill form that the Nazis invented to keep their soldiers marching for days. Today, the authorities estimate that nearly one in every 60 Thai citizens is a methamphetamine user. Last year, shocking new reports claimed that nearly 7,000 children—kids aged from as young as seven up to 17—had been rehabilitated for meth use within the first half of 2012 alone, while this year it emerged that yaba producers are trying to sell the drug to kids over Facebook. So now might not be a bad time to consider some new ways to tackle all that.