Experts unite to oppose govt’s cannabis legalisation

A collective of medical professionals, academics, and civil organisations have released yet another open letter to express their opposition to the government’s decision to legalise cannabis. This marks their seventh open letter on the matter, urging the public to vote for political parties that do not support the removal of cannabis from the list of narcotics, as well as its promotion as a cash crop.

According to the contents of the open letter, there has been a noticeable increase in accidents and incidents of adverse reactions concerning mental and physical health since the consumption of cannabis was liberalised last year. The consumption and trade of this controversial plant were effectively legalised on June 9 of the previous year, when the Bhumjaithai Party succeeded in having cannabis removed from the list of Type 5 narcotics. Consequently, this move led to the permission of usage for most parts of the plant, exempting portions of the plant containing more than 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by weight.

The authors of the open letter highlight that the medical use of cannabis has been allowed since 2019 despite the plant’s listing as a narcotic. However, the removal of cannabis from the list of Type 5 narcotics has made the plant and its derivatives more easily accessible to the public. The letter emphasises that, given the lack of a legal framework to control and monitor the production and consumption of cannabis, recreational use has inevitably surged.

Furthermore, the letter indicates that if the Bhumjaithai Party were genuinely interested in promoting cannabis as a cash crop, its legalisation process should have been overseen by the Ministry of Commerce or the Ministry of Industry. Instead, the Ministry of Public Health finds itself in a perceived paradoxical position, acting as a promoter of cannabis rather than a proper regulatory authority.

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The open letter concludes with a call for the public to re-evaluate their support for political parties that endorse cannabis legalisation in the upcoming General Election on May 14. Accompanying the letter is a list of signatures from medical workers, academics from various fields, and civil workers who advocate for the re-enforcement of cannabis restrictions.

Prominent names amongst the signatories include former senior Health Ministry official Chatree Banchuen, former Central Narcotics Control Office chief Niyom Termsrisuk, and International Narcotics Control Board adviser Viroj Sumyai.

This recent development underscores the ongoing debate surrounding the legalisation of cannabis and its potential societal impact. As the election draws near, it remains to be seen how the public will weigh the concerns raised in the open letter against the potential economic benefits of cultivating and trading this repurposed plant.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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