Thai Government Faces Growing Pressure From Pro-Weed Groups

The government is currently under mounting pressure from pro-cannabis groups that are threatening to demonstrate at the Ministry of Public Health starting Thursday. They demand the ministry justify why cannabis should be reclassified as a narcotic drug.

Concurrently, groups of farmers, who have been cultivating cannabis since before its decriminalization in 2022, expressed their support on Sunday for the government’s intention to label cannabis as a narcotic once more.

These farmers argue that the legalization of cannabis farming has caused a dramatic drop in its market price due to an excessive supply, reversing the previous tight regulations.

When pro-cannabis advocates gather at the ministry, they will present a singular demand: the ministry must scientifically validate the health benefits and risks of cannabis compared to those of alcohol and tobacco, according to Mr. Prasitchai Nunual, the secretary-general of the Cannabis Future Network.

Regardless of whether the reclassification of cannabis as a narcotic is partial or complete, Mr. Prasitchai insists that it should be grounded in scientific proof.

The ministry has been given a 15-day deadline to substantiate its stance, after which, if convincing, the pro-cannabis groups will accept the ministry’s decision to categorize cannabis as a narcotic again.

“Just search on the internet and you will find that [unlike alcohol and tobacco], there have been no research which show cannabis has a serous negative impact on mental health,” he stated

“On the other hand, there are countless studies which demonstrate the health benefits of cannabis, which are sufficient to conclude that cannabis plants have medicinal properties,” he added.

Mr. Prasitchai noted that reports indicate a tenfold increase in cannabis abuse among youth since its decriminalization by the previous government. He emphasized that his network has consistently advocated for stricter regulations to control cannabis usage more effectively.

“We’ve been fighting for this law for two years since the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration; but the required law will never be passed for various political reasons,” he explained.

It is ironic that while the current government has eased regulations on alcohol sales and consumption, it is seeking to impose stricter controls on cannabis, he said.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin hinted that the government might still permit the use of cannabis strictly for medical purposes even if it is reclassified as a narcotic. Public Health Minister Somsak Thepsuthin will provide further details on this matter, Mr. Srettha mentioned.

Although intent on reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic, the government will consider all viewpoints before the Narcotics Control Board makes the final decision, he affirmed.

Montri Yiamsung-noen, president of the Rak Kan community enterprise network in tambon Nong Bua Sala of Muang district in Nakhon Ratchasima, expressed support for the government’s new policy direction.

Following the government’s decision to deregulate, over 90% of the farmland owned by the 435 network members now lies unused, as cannabis prices have collapsed due to excessive supply.

A representative from a similar cannabis-growing enterprise in Sakhon Nakhon shared the same view, noting a dramatic price drop from 10,500 baht per kilogram before decriminalization to merely 5 to 10 baht now, with tons of harvested cannabis still unsold.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul stated that a thorough study will be conducted and reviewed by two to three panels before any decision on cannabis’s legal status is finalized.

Mr. Anutin, leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, was instrumental in promoting cannabis decriminalization during the previous administration.