Cannabis crusaders’ hunger strike: High stakes classification protest

Photo via Facebook/ เขียนอนาคตกัญชาไทย

Cannabis supporters began a hunger strike yesterday in reaction to the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) agreeing to reclassify cannabis as a Narcotics Category 5 drug.

Marijuana was removed from Narcotics Category 5 on June 9, 2022, allowing people to use cannabis products containing no more than 2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for health-related purposes only, not recreation.

While there were no specific laws controlling cannabis use, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) introduced several regulations. For example, cannabis must not be used by people under 20, pregnant women, or breastfeeding women. Additionally, using ganja in public places is illegal.

Following reclassification, cannabis businesses in Thailand boomed, with shops found on almost every street corner, particularly in Bangkok and tourist areas.

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Despite this, many Thai people and academics remain concerned about cannabis misuse and its use among young people. This prompted the Narcotics Control Board to reconsider its classification.

MOPH Deputy Permanent Secretary Surachok Tangwiwat told Thai PBS after a meeting with the ONCB on July 5 that they agreed to recriminalise ganja as a Narcotics Category 5 drug.

As of now, the reclassification has not been officially announced or implemented. The MOPH expects this law to be ready for implementation by January 1, 2025.

In response to the reclassification plan, cannabis supporters voiced their opposition. Aside from mentioning its health benefits and negative effects on businesses, protesters accuse the government of trying to monopolise cannabis profits for a specific group of people.

Members of Writing Thailand’s Cannabis Future group escalated their protest yesterday by starting a hunger strike. They announced they would not stop until the government listened to their views.

Two activists participating in the hunger strike, Prasittichai Noonuan and Akkaradate Chatjinda, have only consumed water and coconut water since yesterday.

Bhumjaithai Party MP, and party spokesperson, Boontida Somchai, told Channel 7 that the party maintains its stance on using cannabis for controlled health-related purposes.

Boontida emphasised that the Bhumjaithai Party submitted a bill on cannabis control in September last year but it is still awaiting a proposal in Parliament.

The party urged relevant departments to consider implementing control laws instead of reclassifying cannabis as a drug, as the change could affect future investor confidence.

Thailand News

Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at

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