Rangsit University Dean Debunks Claims of Increased Psychiatric Cases Due to Cannabis Decriminalization

National —

On June 15th, 2024, Prof. Panthep Puapongphan, the Dean of the College of Oriental Medicine at Rangsit University, publicly addressed what he called misinformation regarding an alleged increase in psychiatric patients following the decriminalization of cannabis since June 9th, 2022.

Prof. Panthep’s comments come in light of Deputy Government Spokesman Karom Phonphonklang’s warning to Thai Minister of Public Health Somsak Thepsuthin regarding his push to reclassify cannabis as a type 5 narcotic.

Prof. Panthep addressed claims that decriminalizing cannabis has led to an increase in psychiatric patients. He highlighted that the data comparing post-decriminalization periods with the lockdown year of 2021 is misleading.

Prof. Panthep pointed out that psychiatric patient numbers and hospital visits had naturally fluctuated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than the decriminalization of cannabis.

Supporting this, the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) reported that the number of people receiving psychiatric services in 2023 (2.9 million) was similar to pre-COVID-19 levels in 2019 (2.8 million) and even lower than in 2018. This indicates that the rise in psychiatric patients cannot be directly linked to cannabis decriminalization, contradicting Somsak’s stance, remarked Prof. Panthep.

Prof. Panthep also noted that the proportion of psychiatric patients related to methamphetamine and other drugs has decreased since cannabis was decriminalized. Data from the Ministry of Public Health showed a consistent drop in drug rehabilitation cases from 2021 to 2024, averaging 26,705 fewer cases each year, further challenging the narrative that cannabis decriminalization has worsened psychiatric issues.

Furthermore, Prof. Panthep emphasized that effective law enforcement and thoughtful regulation, rather than reclassification of cannabis as an illegal narcotic, is crucial for addressing substance abuse problems.

This article originally appeared on our sister website The Pattaya News.

Kittisak Phalaharn
Kittisak has a passion for outgoings no matter how tough it will be, he will travel with an adventurous style. As for his interests in fantasy, detective genres in novels and sports science books are parts of his soul. He works for Pattaya News as the latest writer.