Advocates Slam Government Over New Cannabis Control Bill

Supporters of cannabis legalization strongly criticized Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew for his endorsement of a new draft bill on cannabis and hemp control, accusing him of breaking his promise to involve the civil sector in the process.

Prasitchai Nunual, the head of Thailand’s Cannabis Future Network, expressed his disappointment on Facebook, stating that the minister did not fulfill his commitment to open the draft for public discussion prior to its submission to the cabinet.

Prasitchai emphasized the importance of public participation in the policy-making process to ensure decisions are based on scientific evidence and not influenced by political agendas.

“We have yet to see the contents of the bill, but according to the minister’s media interview, we believe several articles aren’t grounded in facts,” he wrote.

He also highlighted the government’s inconsistent approach in regulating cannabis, methamphetamine pills, and alcoholic drinks.

For example, he pointed out the contradiction of cannabis being legally classified as a herb but requiring a medical prescription in the new bill.

On the other hand, the possession of a small number of methamphetamine pills is not criminalized, despite its classification as a narcotic.

Mr. Prasitchai urged the Public Health Ministry to enhance its officials’ understanding of cannabis, methamphetamine, and alcohol to develop a more effective regulatory framework.

“Methamphetamine has ruined people’s lives, but people can possess it. Drinking is [indirectly] promoted by extending the operating hours of entertainment venues.”

“If the ministry’s policy is dictated by political interests instead of facts, we will take further steps,” he stated.

Daycha Siripatra, the head of the Khaokwan Foundation, agreed with Mr. Prasitchai’s views, pointing out the discrepancies in the regulatory system.

He mentioned that the Public Health Ministry aims to manage cannabis usage similar to how tobacco and alcohol are regulated, substances which were responsible for over 100,000 and 40,000 deaths last year respectively, according to his statement.

Despite the known dangers and health risks associated with tobacco and alcohol, their recreational use remains permitted. Meanwhile, cannabis, which has not been associated with any fatalities, is set to be banned for recreational purposes, he further stated.

“Most people believe that the new bill isn’t for the public interest, but for the interests of some groups whose sales drop significantly after people switch to cannabis to alleviate symptoms like pain or sleeplessness,” he said.

Dr. Cholnan recently stated that the bill prohibits recreational cannabis use and mandates specific procedures for home-based medical use of cannabis.