Cannabis fate discussed today by Narcotics Control Board

PHOTO: The fate of cannabis will be discussed by the Office of the Narcotic Control Board today. (via Britannica)

Today is the day the future of cannabis in Thailand will be decided. The Office of the Narcotics Control Board is meeting to discuss proposals calling for the plant to once again be classified as a Type 5 drug. But some powerful political figures insist that the board is powerless to stop the legalised proliferation of cannabis.

Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul has repeatedly shrugged off pushes to criminalise cannabis, saying the legalisation was a done deal and going back is not an option. Another Deputy Prime Minister, Wissanu Krea-ngam, backed Anutin in saying that the herb would not be made illegal again.

He declared that the ONCB had no jurisdiction to change or remove any announcement declared by a Ministry. Anutin signed the decriminalisation announcement on behalf of the Ministry of Public Health. Bangkok Post reports that the Deputy Prime Minister said the board can ask questions about cannabis and request explanations from the ministry, but cannot overrule them.

“The fact is the board cannot delay, suspend or amend these ministerial announcements as it has no authority to do so at all.”

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Anutin says that the legalisation will stand, but that refinement of the law is needed. The Phuket Express reported Anutin laying out the opposition’s arguments against him.

“What still needs to be done is to put in place a legal mechanism to effectively curb the abuse of cannabis for recreational purposes. There will be two issues which opponents of the legislation of cannabis who are suing me will pursue, the first being a proposal to the Narcotics Control Board to revert cannabis to an illegal narcotic, which would immediately criminalise possession, sales, and cultivation. The second issue will be about the Notification of the Public Health on Controlled Herbs in general and overall regulations around the plant.”

The Public Health Minister believes that the strong opposition to cannabis is mostly by people who don’t understand what benefits the plant can bring, especially for medicinal purposes. He called for a calm response to opponents, about the People’s Network for Cannabis Legalisation planning to protest as the meeting takes place.

Anutin believes that cannabis will remain legal, but the House of Representatives will meet later this week to work on the bill on cannabis and hemp. That bill will add much-needed regulation and stress that cannabis is intended for medicinal use only. But he reiterated it is too late to turn back completely.

“Everything will be as it is now, I don’t foresee any decision that bans cannabis again. Millions of people have received good benefits from our cannabis policy in which they earn money and improve their health versus those who have a negative impact from cannabis. There are too many businesses, farmers, consumers, medical patients, doctors, and more relying on the plant for their health and their income.”

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.