Cannabis decriminalisation not linked to rise in psychiatric patients

Picture courtesy of The Pattaya News

Professor Panthep Puapongphan, Dean of the College of Oriental Medicine at Rangsit University, addressed misinformation about an alleged increase in psychiatric patients following the decriminalisation of cannabis since June 9, 2022. His comments came in response to claims suggesting that this legal change has led to a surge in psychiatric issues.

Prof. Panthep refuted these claims by highlighting that comparing psychiatric patient numbers post-decriminalisation with those during the lockdown year of 2021 is misleading. He explained that the Covid-19 pandemic naturally caused fluctuations in psychiatric patient numbers and hospital visits, independent of cannabis decriminalisation.

The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) supported this view, reporting that the number of people receiving psychiatric services in 2023 (2.9 million) was similar to pre-Covid levels in 2019 (2.8 million) and even lower than in 2018. This data contradicts the claim that the rise in psychiatric patients is directly linked to cannabis decriminalisation.

Prof. Panthep further noted a decrease in the proportion of psychiatric patients related to methamphetamine and other drugs since cannabis was decriminalised. According to the Ministry of Public Health, drug rehabilitation cases have consistently dropped from 2021 to 2024, with an average reduction of 26,705 cases each year. This trend challenges the narrative that cannabis decriminalisation has exacerbated psychiatric issues.

“The data clearly shows that the number of psychiatric patients has not increased due to cannabis decriminalisation. In fact, we see a reduction in cases related to other, more harmful substances.”

Effective law enforcement and thoughtful regulation, rather than reclassifying cannabis as an illegal narcotic, are crucial for addressing substance abuse problems, emphasised Prof. Panthep. He argued that returning cannabis to an illegal status would not address the root causes of substance abuse and could potentially overlook the benefits of regulated cannabis use, reported The Pattaya News.

“We need to focus on effective policies and regulations that manage cannabis use responsibly, rather than reverting to outdated classifications. This approach can help us better tackle substance abuse issues.”

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Bright Choomanee

With a degree in English from Srinakharinwirot University, Bright specializes in writing engaging content. Her interests vary greatly, including lifestyle, travel, and news. She enjoys watching series with her orange cat, Garfield, in her free time.

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