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Thai government might buy private pot – Health Minister

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai government might buy private pot – Health Minister | The Thaiger

After years of speculation, some members of the coalition Thai government are pushing efforts to allow Thais to grow up to six cannabis plants for sale to the government for medical marijuana. Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he is pushing for the Government to change laws to allow the medical use of marijuana freely.

“We have confidence that marijuana will be among the major agricultural products for Thai households. We are speeding up the changes. But there is a process.”

In September, Anutin hinted that… “In the near future, families will be able to plant cannabis in their back gardens like any other herb.”

Thailand has built what the government describes as the largest, industrial scale medical marijuana facility in Southeast Asia.

In September, Maejo University researchers planted 12,000 marijuana seedlings in Chiang Mai while officials watched. They expect the plants will produce medical marijuana within six months, according to the Asia Times.

“The university will be a centre where ordinary people can learn how to plant and grow good quality cannabis. Cannabis is not political; it’s a product that can benefit people’s health,” according to Anutin.

While claiming cannabis is not a political issue, he caused a stir before Thailand’s general election in March, campaigning for legalising of household cultivation. He led his Bhumjaithai party’s campaign by promising each household could cultivate six marijuana plants. The Bhumjaithai party is now a vital part of the ruling coalition – without their votes the Palang Pracharat party would have not been able to form a government.

Anutin told voters before the election that the sale of each mature plant could earn up to 2,225 US dollars. A household could earn 13,350 dollars for selling six plants. An alluring thought, considering the average annual Thai salary is reportedly 8,200 dollars (24,000 baht per month) annually .

But experts caution that not every plant will produce medical grade cannabis, and the ones that do are hard to cultivate. Amateur cultivators might produce low grade plants, but without tending to the plants and investing nutrients and proper lighting equipment, the flowers produced might not qualify for medical use, purchasable by the government.

If recreational cannabis is allowed though, private growers could earn more with less quality control. But legislators warn there is a lot of legal distance between the current situation and the legalisation of recreational cannabis.

Anutin predicts fully legalised marijuana could be a more lucrative crop than rice, sugarcane, tapioca or rubber in the kingdom’s mostly agrarian economy.

Anutin believes Thailand could gain a competitive advantage by creating niche strains for export. Recreational cannabis remains illegal in the kingdom, with punishments including imprisonment.

SOURCE: Forbes

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Politics

Future Forward’s Thanathorn says he’ll “bring people to the streets”

Greeley Pulitzer

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Future Forward’s Thanathorn says he’ll “bring people to the streets” | The Thaiger

It’s the biggest political rally since the general election in March, probably the largest rally in five years since before the military coup in 2014. Thousands of supporters chanted “Prayut get out” at an anti-military demonstration called by former MP, Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit.

Thanathorn told demonstrators that last evening’s rally on the skywalk linking the National Stadium and Siam BTS stations was just the beginning of actions against the government of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. He threatened to “bring people to the streets,” referring to the “Wing Lai Lung” (Run to Oust the Uncle) event, a running event planned for January 12.

Thanathorn says the rally was to demonstrate public anger at what he calls the injustice inflicted on him and the Future Forward Party. He organised the protest three days after the Election Commission voted to ask the Constitutional Court to dissolve Future Forward for alleged campaign finance violations.

The rally was peaceful, lasting less than an hour, with a minor skirmish between protesters and police around 5.40pm. The theme of the protest was a strong anti-military rhetoric. Although police say no permit was granted for the rally, they did not intervene.

Meanwhile PM Prayut dismissed the rally as “a personal matter,” referring to Thanathorn’s current legal problems.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Bangkok

“This is just the beginning” – Thanathorn warns the government

The Thaiger

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“This is just the beginning” – Thanathorn warns the government | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Thousands gathered in the first large anti-government rally in over five years – Khaosod English

He tried to do it legitimately by running for office in the March election. His party performed above expectations, garnering the third highest number of votes after less than 12 months of existence. And Thanathorn was just votes away from being elected Thailand’s Prime Minister.

Now he’s back on the streets fighting what he, and his supporters, describe as “anti-democratic forces”.

Thousands of people rallied in support yesterday in the largest street protest in more than five years. Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit threatened “it’s just the beginning”.

Whether the charges against him and his party by the Election Commission are legitimate or trumped-up, Future Forward now find themselves on the back foot, being pushed out of parliament with a string of cases being heard by the Constitutional Court. Putting aside his parliamentary suit and tie for rolled up sleeves and megaphones in the street, puts Thanathorn on course for a head-on clash with the Thai establishment.

Thanathorn called for the central Bangkok protest on Friday after the latest moves to ban Future Forward – the most vocal challenger to the coalition government under the leadership of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The crowd assembled on the skywalk linking the National Stadium and Siam BTS stations, not shy of making their statement right in the busy heart of the city. They didn’t mince their words.

“We’re just here today as a test run. Prayut, don’t be afraid yet. The real thing is next month.”

The protest, attracting thousands, ran for an hour, was without incident and wrapped up just after 6pm. During the protest many flashed the anti-junta “three-finger” salute, made popular in the movie “Hunger Games” and representing a stand against oppression..

The Election Commission approached the Constitutional Court this week asking for the ruling body to disband the Future Forward Party on grounds it had accepted money or other benefits from “an illegitimate source” under Section 72 of the Political Parties Act.

Thanathorn lent 191 million baht to the party in January this year. The loan was documented and signed off by party officials. Section 66 of the Act prohibits a donation of more than 10 million baht to a party by any individual in any one-year period. But Future Forward say it was a loan, not a donation. If found guilty, Thanathorn and 14 other FF party executives could be banned from politics for at least five years.

Back at the Pathumwan Intersection, Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangruangruangkit told several thousands supporters that the people would no longer put up with political injustice.

“We come together today in a show of force, to show that we will not retreat and will not put up with things any longer. This is not a day to protect the Future Forward, but a day to to protect the future of all Thais.”

“An hour is enough. Once we’re done, we will go home.”

And they did.

But he parted with an invitation and urged supporters of Future Forward to show up next month at the “Run Against Dictatorship” running event scheduled to take place on January 12. He also said there will be a much larger rally in the future.

For the ruling government, and PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, Thanathorn is no longer a polite MP discussing matters in the Parliament. He is now a renegade high-profile voice against their legitimacy. The government, using its blunt tools of the Election Commission and the Constitutional Court, has now pushed Thanathorn and the Future Forward Party into a corner. And now they’re fighting back.

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Thanathorn invites supporters to a rally in Bangkok at 5pm

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thanathorn invites supporters to a rally in Bangkok at 5pm | The Thaiger

PHOTO: time.com

The Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is inviting his supporters to join him at a rally today. In a live video broadcast via his Facebook page, he invited people to a gathering at 5pm this afternoon at the Pathumwan intersection skywalk on Rama I Road. Stripped of his MP title he is now aiming to rally the voice of change from outside Parliament, rather than from within.

The call comes just days after Thailand’s election commission called for the dissolution of Thanathorn’s progressive Future Forward Party.

“I am fed up with the current state of Thai society and want to start a change.”

“Today we will stand together and shout out our voices to the ones in power that we want fairness, justice and equality in the society.”

Thanathorn had his latest stows with the Election Commission earlier this week. They’ve now petitioned the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Future Forward Party over Thanathorn’s 191 million baht loan to FF. The EC alleges the loan was illegal for a political party.

Last month, the Constitutional Court revoked Thanathorn’s parliamentary membership. The court ruled that he had registered to run in the March election while still holding shares in a media company, in violation of the law. Thanathorn produced published evidence at his hearings that this was not the case. But the Constitutional Court stripped him of his MP status anyway.

SOURCE: The Nation

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