On January 6th, 2024, Dr. Cholnan Srikaew, the Thai Minister of Public Health, forwarded a Marijuana Bill for Cabinet consideration, emphasizing its focus on medicinal use only.
The implementation of measures was to prevent misuse, namely recreational purposes, through legal regulations. This bill aimed to establish clear guidelines and controls regarding the use of marijuana for medical and health-related purposes only while addressing potential concerns around its misuse.
Dr. Cholnan highlighted the importance of supporting legislation for matters related to medicine and health, intending to ensure that new regulations complement existing laws. The goal was to harmonize the new laws with the current legal framework to avoid conflicts in the application and enforcement of regulations.
The proposed law maintained a parallel structure with existing legislation on narcotics. Specifically, it defined marijuana extracts containing more than 0.2% THC by weight as a controlled substance, aligning with established legal definitions within drug regulations.
Dr. Cholnan stressed the significance of medical expertise in assessing the appropriate use of marijuana.
Personal opinions regarding the health benefits of marijuana would not suffice, instead, decisions regarding its usage needed to be based on strict medical evidence and expertise.
Existing cannabis shops and dispensaries will not face any immediate closure or cancellation. The intention was not to terminate these businesses but rather to regulate them appropriately within the framework of the new legislation and ensure they focused only on medical use, remarked Dr. Cholnan.
Businesses in food and cosmetic products derived from marijuana would likely require authorization and adherence to specific controls with the new legislation, concluded Dr. Cholnan.
TPN media notes the bill would need to go through many steps and processes to pass and even then the question of how they would enforce essentially banning recreational use would arise. Dr. Cholnan was vague on how this could be done, a continued problem in trying to clearly separate recreational and medical and why arguments over marijuana bills have lasted for coming on two years since marijuana was decriminalized in Thailand.
The Thai government has previously ruled out returning marijuana to a narcotic, which would make legal enforcement action much easier but which activists have said would ruin the industry and once again make criminals out of even small time users. So, instead, the focus of the new bill is on medical regulations and procedures for businesses to attempt to clearly separate medical and recreational use and not target individual users with any legal action.