A new cannabis and hemp control measure presented to lawmakers in Thailand by the Public Health Ministry is set to become law next year in order to limit the plant’s usage. The major goal of the bill, according to Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew, is to tighten loopholes that enable individuals to use cannabis for the improper objectives; it will not reschedule cannabis as a narcotic.
The bill maintains the status of cannabis as a controlled substance and classifies any cannabis extract with a concentration of 0.2% or above as a narcotic.
According to Dr. Cholnan, the measure will also govern the usage of non-narcotic plant components that include psychedelic compounds.
Those who cultivate cannabis, even for personal consumption, are required to obtain a license, he added, since the ministry continues to endorse medical usage but not recreational use.
During their tenure in office, the Bhumjaithai Party introduced a measure to regulate hemp and cannabis that would have permitted domestic cultivation of up to fifteen plants.
All they had to do was notify the appropriate authorities, but now they were also required to get authorization under the new law.
If a cannabis store currently has a license, Dr. Cholnan says they can keep operating as long as they follow the rules. This includes not selling dried buds and not allowing customers to smoke on the premises.
There will be no ambiguity about which establishments can and cannot sell cannabis under the new law.
Cannabis dispensaries allowed to operate
We won’t ban all dispensaries, but businesses selling cannabis must follow the law. Because of the new rules, they can’t sell smoked cannabis buds or even provide consumers with the necessary equipment to smoke their own.
“In the past, we did not control usage, but with the new law, using cannabis for recreational purposes will be prohibited,” according to him.
An initial draft of the law has been completed by the Department of Thai Traditional And Alternative Medicine. It will be amended by the legal team of the Public Health Ministry before being presented at a public hearing this month.
According to Dr. Cholnan, the bill will provide transparent guidelines for the medical use of cannabis and the appropriate settings in which to do so.
To top it all off, he stressed that scientific methods are necessary for growing medical-grade cannabis, therefore the plant will no longer be available for informal cultivation.
He also mentioned that the draft makes it clear that individuals seeking to cultivate cannabis must first obtain a permit from the relevant government. Subsequently, additional restrictions will be announced through ministerial regulation.
“Although cannabis has medicinal uses, many have abused the narcotic compounds found in its other portions. That is why strict regulations limiting cannabis to medicinal uses are necessary. He clarified that the government’s stance on cannabis is one of support for medical use rather than recreational use.
Bill to become law in 2024
According to Supachai Jaisamut, an advisor to Deputy Prime Minister and Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul, the previous government’s version of the bill permitted individuals to register to grow the plant, but this one requires authorization. The initiative has the support of the Ministry of Public Health.
But he did say that the ministry’s proposed measure is identical to Bhumjaithai’s in some respects. As he explained it, other members of parliament or political parties might potentially present their own versions to the house.
Mr. Supachai clarified that the House vetting committee may alter and merge other drafts with the main measure, but that the Public Health Ministry’s proposal will be the primary one considered by parliament.
He predicted that by the middle of next year, the bill will have cleared parliament and become law.
”At present, Thailand earns almost 100 billion baht annually from the export of cannabis extracts utilized in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and personal care products.
Unfortunately for domestic growers, the country also sees an influx of illicit cannabis and cannabis-based products. Trade possibilities will pass Thailand by unless the country enacts the necessary laws and regulations.
Liberalization of cannabis in Thailand
The decriminalization of cannabis has also been considered in Japan as of late. Since Japan has imported cannabis extracts from Thailand, Japanese politicians invited me to discuss the problem, Mr. Supachai added.
He went on to say that retail establishments were required to apply to the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine for authorization to sell cannabis and cannabis-based products per rules set up by the ministry under the prior administration.
“However, it remains an issue of law enforcement to deal with the few stores that operate illegally,” Mr. Supachai stated.
Bhumjaithai made the liberalization of cannabis a central campaign promise in the run-up to the 2019 election.
Announcing the delisting of the plant from Category 5 of the narcotics law in the Royal Gazette on June 9, last year, the only exception being extracts containing more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component.
It decriminalized the cultivation and use of cannabis as a recreational and medical herb in homes.
The goal was to legalize its usage in food, clothing, and cosmetics while simultaneously promoting its medicinal advantages and bolstering a cannabis economy.
Investments in cannabis outlets
At this time, there are rules that prohibit selling to anybody under the age of 18 or to women who are pregnant, as well as smoking in public places. Those that cultivate cannabis for commercial purposes, as well as dispensaries, are required to hold licenses.
Business owners, many from outside the country, flooded the market with investments in cannabis outlets after decriminalization, and consumers shopped for weed without much in the way of medical or consumer advice.
There is uncertainty about the progress of cannabis liberalization as parliament has not passed the law. Parliament rejected Bhumjaithai’s cannabis and hemp control measure during its second reading earlier this year.
A zoning ordinance and significantly harsher legal penalties are among the many protections offered by this policy. Due to their belief that the proposed controls and regulations for cannabis were too lenient, the Pheu Thai and Democratic parties were in opposition to the law at the time.
Rangsit University’s College of Oriental Medicine dean Parnthep Pourpongpan expressed worry that the bill would restrict the plant’s use by the general public and medical professionals.
He speculated that a lack of education regarding the medicinal properties of cannabis is a contributing factor to the fact that so few doctors in the modern medical system are recommending it.
Cannabis is not a narcotic
It is with great relief that we report cannabis’s removal from the narcotics list. But we are worried that restrictions on medicinal use will make it very difficult for people to get alternative medicine, he added.
Many patients have benefited from traditional medicine treatments that include cannabis, according to medicinal cannabis advocate Daycha Siripatra. She maintains that cannabis is not a narcotic.
He claimed that 47 million individuals have signed up to cultivate cannabis and are prepared to fight any efforts to categorize it as a drug.
Convenience stores sell cigarette and alcohol products despite their negative health effects, while cannabis is stigmatized despite its potential health advantages.
The need of educating people about the correct way to utilize the plant for optimum health advantages was emphasized, but he also mentioned that laws and regulations can be enforced to address concerns about its overuse.
The head of Thailand’s Cannabis Future Network, Prasitchai Nunual, further cautioned that the public sector would oppose any efforts by politicians to reclassify cannabis as a drug.
Mr. Prasitchai recently met with Dr. Cholnan and expressed optimism on behalf of the network over the possibility of cannabis not being reclassified as a narcotic. “We will observe the situation,” he stated simply.
On the other hand, he is worried that the Public Health Ministry’s proposed legislation would make it too difficult for individuals to cultivate cannabis for personal use, such as mandating that it be grown in a controlled environment or in collaboration with educational institutions.
A legislation that could hinder the growth of the traditional Thai medicine sector is something he is wary of, he added.