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Officials mull ban on tree oil

Cambodian officials together with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime are pushing to include a naturally occurring oil in anti-drug legislation.

The safrole-rich oil extracted from m’reah prov trees in Cambodia’s isolated and heavily forested northwest is used in the production of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.

"Introducing legislation is crucial to stopping all forms of trade in m’reah prov oil and would enable us to impose heavy punishments on traffickers,” Lou Ramin, general secretary of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said at the Workshop for the Control of Safrole-Rich Oil, held in Phnom Penh on March 5-6.

Harvesting the oil, as well as helping fuel the country’s drug industry also threatens the survival of the rare slow-growing m’reah prov tree species as they are cut down in the extraction process, said an official from the Forestry Administration, under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Ramin said Vietnam and Thailand have reported significant quantities of the oil being smuggled through their borders from Cambodia in the past few years.

The workshop heard suggestions that m’reah prov oil be classified as a Category 3 substance.

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