Enough time for cannabis bill readings before House dissolves: Chuan
The current House of Representatives still has enough time to deliberate on the second and third readings of the Marijuana and Hemp Bill before its tenure ends in March.
Parliament President Chuan Leekpai said on Monday that the bill is now the second topic on the House’s agenda and can be moved up after a week’s notice.
The marijuana bill, which was engineered by coalition partner Bhumjaithai, was sent back to the House committee that vetted the bill for a review in September.
Bhumjaithai Party cried foul, asking why a coalition partner was trying to undermine its political popularity. The party had promised to legalise marijuana while campaigning for votes ahead of the 2019 general election.
The House voted 198:136 to return the bill to the ad hoc panel for review after the Democrat Party, also a coalition partner, said legalising marijuana would promote its recreational use. Democrat MPs also voiced concern that young people would abuse cannabis as a drug. A similar concern was raised by the Rural Doctors Society.
Chuan, who is also House speaker, was speaking to reporters after meeting with the coalition, opposition and Senate whips to discuss how to make most of the time left before the House dissolves on March 23.
The whips were informed that the House would hold an extra meeting each Friday because several MPs have pending overseas missions later, Chuan said.
The whips agreed to extend weekly meeting hours to 8 or 9pm to avoid having to hold extra meetings to clear the backlog.
The whips have also agreed to first study each case on the agenda to see if the extra Friday meetings are necessary.
Chuan added that both the House and Senate are scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to deliberate on some issues. If the remaining issues on the agenda are also cleared then another joint meeting will not be necessary, he said.
Chuan said he has also asked Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam to coordinate with the government to ensure that all coalition MPs attend House meetings so there are no quorum issues.