Thai citizens who call themselves the “Network for Shaping the Future of Thai Cannabis” expressed strong dissatisfaction with Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew for endorsing a new draft of the cannabis and hemp control bill without fulfilling his alleged promise of consulting the civil and business sector.
In his Facebook post, Prasitchai Nunual, the network’s secretary-general, slammed Cholnan for not keeping his promise to allow the public to discuss the draft bill before handing it over to the Cabinet for consideration.
He claimed that the minister had personally promised his network to allow public participation to ensure the bill would be formulated based on scientific facts and evidence and not influenced by political interests.
“Why didn’t he keep his word about listening to the public before submitting the draft?” Mr. Prasitchai criticized the decision. “We still haven’t seen what all the measures are, but from the minister’s media interview, we think many of the measures are problematic and not based on facts.”
Prasitchai further criticized the proposed regulations, particularly the requirement for a doctor’s permission for home cannabis use and plantation. He questioned why, for instance, a person having less than five methamphetamine pills is not considered an offense, but a person wanting to grow or use cannabis at their house needs to seek a doctor’s permission.
Additionally, Mr. Prasitchai warned the government against favoring certain groups within the Thai political landscape. He urged the Ministry of Public Health to promote cannabis and hemp by looking at factual information over political pressure, the same way the government indirectly promoted alcohol by extending the legal opening hours for the entertainment industry.
Daycha Siripatra, the president of the Khaokwan Foundation, echoed Mr. Prasitchai’s viewpoints, highlighting inconsistencies in the regulatory framework.
He explained that even though cannabis has not been linked to any deaths, it still faces stricter regulations, unlike tobacco and alcohol, substances that caused over 100,000 and 40,000 deaths respectively last year, which have been legally allowed for recreational purposes.
Daycha believed that the new bill doesn’t serve the public interest but rather benefits specific groups, especially those experiencing significant sales drops as people turn to cannabis for symptom relief, such as pain and sleeplessness.
Since their statements, the draft bill has been posted in Thai online, and other concerns have also arisen, such as a proposed fine of 60,000 baht for using marijuana for recreational use. Many have expressed concern that this proposed fine would be abused by corrupt law enforcement, especially against foreign tourists, similar to vaping in the past, especially as it was not clear in the bill how officials would clearly identify that the usage of marijuana was recreational and not for medicinal reasons. Others feared this creating a “tea money” situation similar to prostitution, which is also under consideration for decriminalization in Thailand after decades of being widely accepted unofficially but is still illegal.
Marijuana regulation is certain to be a major issue in the future and we will keep a close eye on it here at TPN media.