WEDNESDAY, April 17, 2024

Marijuana in Thailand will be regulated, not banned: public health minister

Marijuana in Thailand will be regulated, not banned: public health minister

Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said the government will soon pass a bill that ensures marijuana is used for medical and health purposes only.

Cholnan made this comment on Tuesday to apparently correct Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who recently told an online news site that his government will be putting marijuana back on the list of narcotics.

Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul was clearly shocked by Srettha’s comment and declared on Monday that he had to listen to the entire interview before he could respond.

Anutin, in his capacity as public health minister in the previous government, had pushed for removing marijuana from the national list of narcotics.

While campaigning for votes during the 2019 general election, Anutin’s Bhumjaithai Party had promised voters that it would ensure that marijuana is decriminalised, so it can be used for medical treatment and as an ingredient for health products, thus serving as a cash crop for the country.

Putting marijuana back on the narcotics list would spark conflicts between coalition leader Pheu Thai and key partner Bhumjaithai.

On Tuesday, Cholnan said Srettha may be expressing his personal views, but that was not the government’s policy.

Marijuana in Thailand will be regulated, not banned: public health minister

He pointed out that the coalition had already announced its policy to Parliament clearly – that marijuana would be used for medical and health purposes and to boost the economy. He said since the policy had been declared in Parliament, it needs to be complied with.

Under current laws, he said, only marijuana extract with 0.2% or more of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by weight would be regarded as a narcotic.

Cholnan added that the bill regulating the use of marijuana for health and medical purposes has been drafted and will be submitted to the Cabinet for deliberation soon.

“The bill will provide a legal basis for the policy that has been delivered to Parliament,” Cholnan said. “Since marijuana is not a drug, there should be a law regulating it in line with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 that says countries that do not criminalise marijuana should enact a law to regulate it.”

Under the new bill, anyone who uses marijuana for purposes other than medical or health reasons will be punished.

He said putting marijuana back on the list of narcotics would have severe repercussions as it has been decriminalised for several years now. He said the private sector, shops and households growing marijuana for medical use would be affected.

The minister added that the new law, once enacted, would require those who want to grow marijuana for personal use to seek permission first.