On January 15th, 2024, Dr. Cholnan Srikaew, the Thai Minister of Public Health, publicly revealed an issue with Mr. Prasitchai Noonuan, a member of the Thai cannabis network, who mentioned the Cannabis and Hemp draft bill was different from the previously proposed changes formed by a coalition of cannabis and health advocates.
Dr. Cholnan stated that previously Prasitchai and other members of the Thai cannabis network were invited to political discussions regarding cannabis and hemp, emphasizing medical and health uses.
The use of cannabis other than for medical and health purposes was considered to violate the law, however, current cannabis shops were not canceled, instead, they must operate under the new regulations, remarked Dr. Cholnan.
“Users, sellers, shops, service times, and selling platforms of the cannabis must be supervised as the basis of marijuana including the root, stem, leaves, and petals, was not classified as an illicit substance. However, they contain an amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), therefore, the use of these items must be under Public Health regulations and supervision,” said Dr. Cholnan.
During the discussion, all parties were invited to express their opinion regarding the Cannabis and Hemp bill, however, risks to the health of humankind must be taken into account, remarked Dr. Cholnan.
According to the previous bill from the Bhumjaithai Party, cannabis could be used in private spaces, but not in public areas, especially smoking.
However, this regulation was not included in the new draft bill and added that the complete prohibition of recreational purposes, emphasizing medical and health aspects, was not limited only to public spaces, said Dr. Cholnan.
To use cannabis for medical and health aspects, users must have evidence of medical reasons for using cannabis or hold a valid prescription issued by physicians, concluded Dr. Cholnan. This seems to suggest that under the proposed draft bill users will have to get a medical certificate showing they are prescribed cannabis to purchase from cannabis stores. As the bill is still in VERY early draft status, however, it is unclear what this process would look like or if cannabis shops could prescribe the certificates on-site themselves.
It’s also unclear what medical conditions prescribing cannabis would be appropriate for, with many netizens claiming that people would simply claim stress, insomnia, or aches and pains to get prescribed cannabis as happened in other countries that strictly tried to ban recreational use and instead developed an entirely secondary cannabis medical certificate industry. It’s also unclear how a ban on recreational use in private spaces, with a 60,000 baht fine (US 2000 dollars) would be enforced, which is a major concern of cannabis rights activists.
TPN Media notes, however, that the new draft law is NOT final and is currently being deliberated by various pro-cannabis groups and the public through January 23rd, as we reported here.
After proposals and submissions are made during the open process, the Thai Public Health Minister will review the proposed changes, meet with cannabis business advocates and opponents, and submit any revisions to the Thai Cabinet. At that point, the bill would need to go through Cabinet and Parliament approval which is likely to be a long and somewhat complex process with many differing opinions on how cannabis should be treated in Thailand.