Bill committee removes section stating cannabis isn’t a narcotic

PHOTO: Cannabis bill omission could allow it to be reclassified as a narcotic. (via Thought Co)

Section 3 of the draft law being debated in the government right now states that cannabis and hemp are not considered narcotic substances under the Narcotics Act. The House committee that is currently scrutinizing the bill agreed to remove that section, causing controversy and hinting at the possibility of redefining the status of cannabis in Thailand.

Ever since legalising cannabis in June, regulations have been spotty at best, with no defined rules. The government has debated a draft bill to enact into law clarifying what is and is not allowed in the kingdom now. While it may be a bit jarring to see the text that specifically says cannabis is not a drug be removed from that bill, pro-cannabis politicians say that it will not affect the decriminalisation of the herb.

The Bhumjaithai Party, who pushed for legalisation and sponsored the bill, was supported by the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine in advising people not to worry about the legality of cannabis. The chairman of the panel deliberating the bill said that the purpose was to limit the unbridled recreational use of the drug in consideration of the negative effects that could have on Thai society.

The meeting yesterday read through the cannabis bill a second time but adjourned before any vote was cast on the issue. The draft has been tossed around since September and has inflated from 45 sections originally to 95 now. The bill includes penalties for breaking the rules, and provisions to limit households to growing just 15 cannabis plants and to restrict access for children.

In a section-by-section scrutinising of the bill, the committee agreed to remove Section 3 which specifically states cannabis is not a narcotic legally. Cannabis supporters said that omission was a compromise. If the current bill doesn’t pass, later governments may replace it with harsher legislation. Members of the Bhumjaithai Party refused to speculate on cannabis being reclassified as a narcotic, saying that the committee doesn’t control that.

“If the bill fails to clear parliament, the party will use it to campaign for the next election. We want to push for its passage … Any party that wants to restore it as a narcotic drug should make their stance known, too, so the public know[s] which party to vote for.”

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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.