The head of Thailand’s Centre of Addiction Studies, says cannabis usage for recreational purposes should be completely prohibited, and portions of the plant with high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content should be restored as narcotics on the list of narcotics.
Dr. Rasmon stated this in support of Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew’s proposal to revise his predecessor Anutin Charnvirakul’s draught bill on cannabis and hemp. The previous House of Representatives voted against the bill.
A ministerial regulation was issued before the measure was tabled for House debate to remove cannabis and hemp as Category 5 narcotics from the Narcotics Act’s list of narcotics.
Dr. Rasmon stated she agreed with Dr. Cholnan’s proposal to change the draught bill so that cannabis and hemp can only be utilized for medical and health purposes. The draught would prohibit their use for recreational purposes, would reject a proposal to allow the cultivation of 15 cannabis plants per family, and would restore flowering sections of cannabis with a high THC content on the list of narcotics.
She stated that medical personnel had no objections regarding using cannabis for medicinal purposes. However, they have discovered that more people, particularly youngsters, are becoming ill due to recreational cannabis use.
Cannabis use among teens aged 18-19 surged tenfold between 2019 and 2022, from 0.9% to 9.7%, even though recreational use is illegal. She claimed that this demonstrated that the current law is ineffectual.
As a result, Dr. Rasmon believes that a regulation should be enacted to explicitly limit the use of cannabis and hemp and to fully prohibit their usage for recreational purposes.
While there is no such law at the moment, she believes an announcement should be made to reinstall cannabis parts with high THC content on the list of narcotics.
Cannabis for medical use only
Meanwhile, Thailand’s new prime minister has pledged to limit the use of cannabis for medical purposes, following the opening of hundreds of weed stores around the country since the country became the first in Asia to decriminalize cannabis a year ago.
Within six months, the government will aim to “rectify” its cannabis policy and the rampant sprouting of shops that openly sell the drug, Srettha Thavisin said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin on Wednesday in New York.
“The law will need to be rewritten,” stated Srettha. “It needs to be fixed.” “We can have that regulated for medical use only,” he added, adding that a middle ground for recreational use is impossible.
While Srettha stated that there is broad consensus within the 11-party coalition he leads on the need to prohibit cannabis use, it is unclear how his administration will proceed.
Srettha’s Pheu Thai Party ran a hardline anti-drug campaign before the May election, vowing to reverse the landmark cannabis decriminalization policy. It is now in a coalition with the Bhumjaithai Party, led by Anutin Charnvirakul, who has vowed to push ahead with his proposal to bring a cannabis bill in parliament that seeks greater industry oversight but opposes reclassifying the plant as a drug.
Following the decision to declassify marijuana as a narcotic, a continued regulatory vacuum has resulted in the proliferation of almost 6,000 dispensaries nationwide. They sell anything from cannabis buds to oil extracts with less than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol — the psychoactive component that gives users a “high” feeling.
Thai farmers can also freely cultivate cannabis after registering with the country’s Food and Drug Administration. Local dispensary operators have also expressed concerns about unrestricted imports and depressed prices.
Reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic in Thailand
The cannabis sector was unaffected by the decision to reimpose regulations. According to Poonwarit Wangpatravanich, president of the Phuket Cannabis Association, the medical benefits of cannabis already blur the distinctions between health and recreational use, effectively making any restriction on leisure use unworkable.
“More regulation will be beneficial because we don’t want a free-for-all,” Poonwarit added. “Cannabis is here to stay, but its exact status is unknown.”
According to Rattapon Sanrak, founder of cannabis advocacy group Highland Network, reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic instead of regulating the sector risks encouraging recreational usage underground, where there will be even less oversight.
Srettha’s administration has pledged to “eradicate” drugs from Thai society, with the prime minister promising to “decisively reduce” the threat within a year while presiding over a ceremony to destroy narcotics recovered by authorities earlier this week.
Thailand is widely regarded as the principal conduit for drug trafficking along Southeast Asia’s huge Mekong River valley, with law enforcement officials frequently accused of looking the other way.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, Southeast Asia’s organized criminal economy, which includes the illicit trafficking of drugs and wildlife, was worth an estimated $130 billion in 2019.
“The drug problem has been widespread recently, particularly in the north and northestern parts of Thailand,” Srettha said. “And we don’t need another problem on top of that.”
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