Democrats Deny Rift With Bhumjaithai Over Cannabis Bill Withdrawal

Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit has denied rumors of a rift with coalition partner Bhumjaithai Party over the recent decision to withdraw the Cannabis and Hemp bill.

The House of Representatives voted to remove the controversial legislation from its agenda earlier this week after Democratic lawmakers said its content was loose and could risk young people’s health.

However, the move was highly criticized. Lawmakers who backed the Bhumjaithai Party’s flagship legislation said it was politically motivated.

Mr. Jurin responded to critics, saying that his party supported the use of cannabis for medical purposes but was against its liberalization.

The Democratic leader claimed that his party’s opposition to the Cannabis and Hemp bill was not politically motivated, explaining that the decision came after considering young people’s interests and the country’s future.

The move shows that Democratic political leaders care about the country, Mr. Jurin said. He added that he believed other parties shared the same opinion.

Speaking about the Bhumjaithai party’s claims that withdrawing the bill would encourage people to grow cannabis outside the law, the Democratic leader stated that Thailand’s future was above everything else.

The bill’s long-term effects should also be taken into account to resolve related issues, he added.

Mr. Jurin also responded to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul’s comments that withdrawing the bill now would hurt many people, saying that he could see the matter from a different angle.

The Democratic Party considered it necessary to take action on the Cannabis and Hemp bill to solve problems that may affect people in the future, he went on.

While declining to say whether the legislation would be re-tabled in time for the next parliament session, Mr. Jurin clarified that a House committee had to amend the bill to ensure cannabis use for medical purposes. In the meantime, the Public Health Ministry could impose other measures to control the plant’s consumption.

Mr. Jurin’s comments came after the House of Representatives voted 198-136 to withdraw the Cannabis and Hemp bill on Wednesday, pending a revision for improvements.

Opposition Leader and Pheu Thai lawmaker Suthin Klangsaeng also explained his party’s opposition to the legislation, accusing Mr. Anutin of promoting cannabis recreational use.

Mr. Suthin stated that Pheu Thau never supported the recreational use of cannabis and hemp, saying that the government and the Bhumjaithai Party should have proposed laws to control it before announcing a decriminalization policy.

In addition to the Democratic Party and Pheu Thai, coalition partners such as the ruling Palang Pracharath Party opposed the bill.