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Controlled use of kratom and marijuana to be decriminalised

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Controlled use of kratom and marijuana to be decriminalised | The Thaiger

By Pratch Rujivanarom

There may be a time in the near future where local police aren’t required to chase around and arrest people using kratom and marijuana, in some situation and in small quantities. Decriminalisation has worked in some countries where it is followed by solid public education. How will Thailand handle decriminalisation of these drugs?

New narcotics laws to decriminalise drug users and legalise the controlled use of kratom and marijuana passed first reading at the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Thursday.

The NLA passed by a landslide vote the three narcotics control policy bills, which are an effort by authorities to reform official drug policies and tackle the problem of overcrowded prisons.

Academics praised the new laws as heading in the right direction for drug reform, but cautioned that there remained the need for clear regulations to help prevent drug abuse and segregate drug users from drug dealers.

Deputy Prime Minister ACM Prachin Chantong said that the three bills will later be merged into a single law regulating various aspects of drug issues. The final bill will aim to legalise a limited use of narcotics for medical, science and industrial purposes, while enhancing the rehabilitation of drug users and limiting the spread of drug abuse in society.

Prachin said that in parallel with the new laws, a committee will be set up under the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) responsible for drafting rules and measures governing the use of narcotic drugs. As well, the ONCB will be required by the new laws to announce the legal use of kratom in specific areas and under certain terms and conditions.

Under the new narcotics law, kratom and marijuana will not be labelled a narcotic drugs with attendant punishments for use. Use of the two plant-based drugs would remain controlled and regulated by Public Health Ministry and ONCB, he said.

Prachin also said a committee would be created to revise enforcement procedures for narcotic drug offences. There will be a shift from punishing drug users to instead treating drug use as a medical issue, with users sent to hospitals for rehabilitation. The shift is expected to help solve the problem of overflowing prisons.

According to the Thailand Institute of Justice, the country now has 343,657 people jailed, the highest number in Asean, and sixth highest globally. Over 70 per cent of prisoners in Thailand are there for drug offences.

Prapapun Chucharoen, expert on narcotic drugs at the Asean Institute for Health Development at Mahidol University, said the authorities’ change of policies governing use of kratom and marijuana is a step in the right direction. The plants have many medical and scientific benefits, she said, but clear control measures need to be in place to prevent abuse.

Prapapun said kratom has no serious harm on human health if used properly, but she has found that many youths abused kratom by mixing it with other substances to create dangerous narcotic cocktails. Authorities must ensure there are clear rules to restrict the improper use of the plants.

“I also agree with the decriminalisation for drug users, as from a medical point of view they are patients with brain and behavioural disorders. But the officers will have to make sure that we have a good system in place to separate drug users from drug dealers, or we will not be able to stop the spread of drugs in our society,” she said.

Controlled use of kratom and marijuana to be decriminalised | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Property

“No stimulus for property sector” – Thai finance minister

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“No stimulus for property sector” – Thai finance minister | The Thaiger

The Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana told a seminar in Bangkok yesterday that the government’s stimulus packages were for the ‘grass roots economy’ and the property sector can cope on its own, without any government assistance.

He was speaking at a property seminar hosted by the Krungthep Turakit newspaper yesterday. He said that that the real estate sector could readily adjust to the Bank of Thailand’s loan-to-value (LTV) criteria on mortgage loans that took effect last April.

“The government’s latest economic stimulus packages are aimed at helping revive the grassroots economy, and that should in turn benefit to the property sector.”

The 316 billion baht stimulus package approved by the Cabinet on August 20 focuses on cash handouts for low-income earners and domestic travellers and extends soft loans to drought-afflicted farmers.

The upbeat finance minister also said that, once the US-China trade war is sorted out, the Thai economy will expand at a faster rate.

“The Thai economy continues to expand.”

“Regardless of what happens with the US-China trade talks, GDP growth will reach 3%, as forecast by the National Economic and Social Development Council.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Environment

Thai government to consider bringing forward plastics ban

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Thai government to consider bringing forward plastics ban | The Thaiger

That’s a ban on of single-use plastic bags, styrofoam (polystyrene) boxes, plastic straws and single-use plastic cups

In a surprise announcement, the Thai Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment says they’re considering bringing forward, by 1-2 years, a complete ban on the use of the key plastic polluters.

Varawut Silpa-archa, the Natural Resources and Environment Minister, says the department’s proposal, approved by Cabinet in April this year, to phase out the four types of plastic products by the year 2022, was too slow and should be brought forward.

Mr. Parkpoom Witharntirawat, a leader of an environment network, says that plastic waste is now having a widespread and profound impact on the environment and the situation will get worse if Thailand waits until 2022 to introduce the ban.

“We should move faster toward a plastic free society in Thailand. Every modern shop, shopping mall or other activity must stop using and distributing so much plastic.”

Minister Varawut says that the government is cooperating with the private sector to try to reduce the amount of trash, including plastic waste, being washed into seas around Thailand by installing netting in the estuaries of several rivers to trap the trash.

“This does nothing to address the root of the problem, but it’s a short-term measure which can help mitigate the problem of plastic waste getting into the oceans.”

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Thailand

Arrival projections for Thai tourism downgraded for 2019

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Arrival projections for Thai tourism downgraded for 2019 | The Thaiger

Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has downgraded the forecast for foreign arrivals this year to a range of 39-39.8 million. This is down from the upbeat projections at the start of the year that 40.2 million tourists would arrive in the Land of Smiles.

Thai tourism for the first half of 2019 grew only 1.4%, less than expected, prompting the new Minister to admit that the target of over 40 million would not be met.

Although some netizens have characterised the slight reduction in tourist arrivals, especially in some of the traditional ‘hot spots’, and specifically in the months of April and May, to a ‘collapse’ or major reversal of fortune for Thai tourism, the numbers still show an upward trajectory for the year.

The Thailand Tourism Intelligence Centre says 23.1 million foreign tourists visited the Kingdom between January and the end of August this year, up nearly 2% compared to the same period last year. The big mover is Indian tourists, up 24% year on year.

The minister, whose proposal to provide incentive to Chinese and Indian tourists with visa-free entry, says he will continue to chat about about the “security issues” raised with related state agencies.

His proposal, rebuffed last week by foreign minister Don Pramudwinai and deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, was rejected at last Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. But the Cabinet did extend the current 2,000 baht visa-on-arrival fee waiver to the end of April next year.

Apart from India and China, the following countries are also on the list of visa-on-arrival fee waivers – Bulgaria, Bhutan, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu.

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