The proposed legislation that would ban recreational cannabis use in Thailand has been delayed by the government to gather further public feedback, according to Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew.
Following Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Minister Cholnan announced that the Ministry of Public Health requires more time to collect perspectives on the proposed bill. This delay prevents its immediate submission to the cabinet for consideration.
The Public Health Minister had reportedly rushed the bill to attempt to get it to pass after complaints online about people smoking at a Coldplay concert last week.
The proposed ban reflects Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s campaign promise from May 2023 to restrict cannabis use to medical and health-related purposes. This stance emerged from alleged concerns about potential addiction risks associated with recreational use.
Despite the delay, Minister Cholnan previously asserted that the revised cannabis and hemp control bill will prioritize medical treatment as the sole legitimate use for the plants while explicitly prohibiting any form of recreational consumption.
The delay was likely to allow more feedback from pro-cannabis groups and to resolve concerns over some parts of the bill such as a proposed 60,000 baht fine for being caught using cannabis recreationally or how exactly a ban on using cannabis recreationally in the privacy of one’s home would be enforced fairly.
It is unclear when the draft bill would move forward once again, notes TPN media. Even if the Thai Cabinet does pass the bill, it would need to then go through Parliament and get the majority support to pass as law. This isn’t guaranteed as the Bhumjaithai party and Move Forward Party have both expressed significant concerns over portions of the bill.
The bill has been debated between opposing groups for months, as we reported here, with many concerned around how it would be enforced and what it would mean for Thailand’s thousands of dispensaries and cannabis shops. Emotions have been high between both those who support and oppose legal cannabis and will likely continue until the different factions are able to find common ground and compromise.