Officials Hail Cannabis Legalization but Call for Stricter Control Law

On Tuesday, Public Health Minister Anutin Charvirakul hailed cannabis decriminalization as a success, describing the move as “good policy” and announcing government campaigns to ensure its proper use.

Thailand became the first Asian country to decriminalize marijuana on Thursday last week. Since then, around 700,000 people have applied for licenses for cannabis-related businesses, the minister said.

Mr. Anutin, who is also a deputy prime minister, added that the cannabis cultivation registration app had been used at least 20 million times.

“That exceeds the target. The policy is good. The Public Health Ministry pushed it for its economic and health benefits,” he went on.

New government regulations allow people to register and obtain permission to grow cannabis, but the plant’s domestic use is restricted to medical treatment. Companies or individuals that manufacture cannabis products must apply for licenses to operate.

Also, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content should be limited to 0.2% by weight. Any product or food ingredient with higher THC content would be considered a narcotic.

According to Mr. Anutin, the current parliamentary session is set to discuss a cannabis and hemp use bill, following the Public Health Ministry’s ban on cannabis consumption in public places.

The government has included many cannabis-based medical formulations on the national list of essential medicines, expecting some to be used to treat patients. Their use will be promoted to generate income, the minister added.

However, authorities have stepped up public campaigns to inform people about cannabis’ benefits and warn against marijuana’s unhealthy use.

On Tuesday, Senator Somchai Sawangkan warned that the cannabis and hemp bill’s belated passage in the current parliamentary session would leave a loophole in controls on marijuana’s recreational use, which is necessary to protect young people.

Mr. Somchai said that THC content tests were expensive, and there were no laboratories capable of doing such tests in the whole country.

Therefore, the cabinet should issue a regulation to ban any cannabis use for recreational purposes, he commented.

The officials’ remarks came on Tuesday when, in a separate development, four men were admitted to Bangkok hospitals for treatment after a marijuana overdose.

Bangkok’s governor said the four men had been sent to hospitals run by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) with suspected overdose symptoms, but one later died of heart failure. The group included a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old.