Cannabis to be classified as ‘soft drug’: Somsak

TUESDAY, MAY 14, 2024

In a move to deter recreational use, the Public Health Ministry is planning to put cannabis back on the category 5 narcotics list but classify it as a “soft drug”, under which its production, import, export and use will be regulated by the ministry.

Public Health Minister Somsak Thepsutin said on Monday that some category 5 drugs were also classified as soft drugs, including magic mushrooms and opium plants.

Cannabis products, meanwhile, had previously been classified as drugs when they contain more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), he added.

Cannabis was legalised in Thailand on June 9, 2022, although public smoking and sale to children and pregnant women have been banned. The ambiguous usage terms and possession limit of cannabis have been subject to debate ever since.

Somsak said he planned to invite entrepreneurs in cannabis-related businesses to discuss the drafting of updated ministry’s regulations after te relisting of the plant as a narcotic. He promised that the new regulations would be flexible, with the plant being allowed for use under a doctor’s prescription, as traditional Thai medicine, and for medical research.

“Soft drugs can be either category 5 or 6 narcotics,” said Somsak. “Please understand that a soft drug is not completely prohibited. The regulations will aim to prevent harm from misuse, as well as the use by children according to the government’s policy.”

The minister added that the classification of cannabis as a soft drug will also help a future government in considering removing the plant from the narcotics list when the public agrees with its legalisation.

Somsak added that the ministry has yet to set a clear timeline for issuing the new regulations on category 5 drugs, but he believed it could be completed within this year.

When asked about the possibility of classifying cannabis as an addictive substance instead, similar to tobacco and liquor, Somsak said that this move is “easier said than done”.