Anutin dissatisfied, but will ‘respect’ decision on marijuana

MONDAY, MAY 13, 2024

Minister behind decriminalisation of marijuana unhappy, but says he will go along with government’s decision

Though Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul appears dissatisfied with the government’s plan to return marijuana to the list of controlled narcotics, he said he will respect the final decision.

Anutin engineered the decriminalisation of the herb while he was public health minister under General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government.

While campaigning for votes during the 2019 general election, he promised voters that his Bhumjaithai Party would push for the decriminalisation of cannabis, so it can be used as medicine and a cash crop for sectors like food and beverage, as well as cosmetics.

Anutin told reporters on Monday that he was a member of the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) and had presented his set of data to support the decriminalisation of marijuana. He said if the current board has new data on marijuana then it should put it forward to back its stance. He added that he would respect NCB’s final decision.

Separately, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has instructed Public Health Minister Somsak Thepsutin to return marijuana to the controlled narcotics list by yearend.

Anutin said he has met both Srettha and Somsak and presented the data he has available to support the decriminalisation of cannabis.

“This way, NCB can review this issue,” he said. “Nobody can undo it out of the blue, because it has been decriminalised for a reason. In 2022, the NCB voted unanimously to delist it. If the policy will be changed, we should hold talks.”

Once the NCB voted to delist it as a drug two years ago, Anutin issued a directive as public health minister to remove it from the list of Category 5 Narcotics.

He said he is also part of the current board and will join the vote on the issue.

“If the NCB has new information [on the abuse of marijuana], then it should present it. Don’t politicise the issue, because that will only result in the policy bouncing back and forth. We can’t take a personal attitude towards this,” he said.

Anutin also promised not to rock the boat if NCB votes to relist cannabis, adding “I won’t create repercussions because I’m now heading the Interior Ministry”.