High stakes: Thai PM leads talks on weed reclassification

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Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin spearheaded a meeting yesterday to discuss the country’s narcotics issues and the potential reclassification of cannabis as a type 5 narcotic drug.

The conference saw the involvement of key officials such as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul, the newly appointed Minister of Public Health Somsak Thepsuthin and the Minister of Justice, Police Colonel Thawee Sodsong, along with other relevant Thai authorities.

PM Srettha underscored the urgency of addressing narcotics-related issues in Thailand, which he identified as a national concern requiring unified efforts at both the local and national levels.

The 62 year old Thai prime minister acknowledged the relentless efforts by the Thai authorities to combat drug trafficking and the usage of illicit substances. However, he expressed concern over the persistently high drug use in the country, pointing to the continued operation of drug lords and local dealers as a significant cause.

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Another key discussion point in the conference was the need for a clearer definition of drug addicts and dealers found with illegal substances. To which the Ministry of Public Health was tasked with revising the existing regulations.

He suggested that the legal standards for possession should be more precise, and the definitions of possession should shift from “a small amount” to “one pill of illicit substances” for more effective law enforcement.

Guilty until proven innocent

PM Sretta stressed that even the possession of a single methamphetamine pill could lead to prosecution of the user. Fines and jail time may be the imminent result unless the person can prove their addiction. Otherwise, they may be charged as a dealer.

The PM emphasised the role of investigative police in distinguishing between drug addicts and dealers. He also highlighted the need for collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Public Health to enhance drug treatment efficiency.

The potential of using military camps for drug addict rehabilitation was also discussed, though it was acknowledged that this proposal’s budgetary implications and feasibility are still under discussion.

This war on drugs is said to unfold over the next 90 days.

Towards the end of the conference, the Thai PM proposed the reclassification of cannabis as a type 5 narcotic drug, following its decriminalisation in 2022.

The newly assigned Somsak Thepsuthin was tasked with new methods to explore amendments to legal regulations, allowing the use of cannabis solely for medical and health purposes. To which he states his intentions to carefully consider both sides of the cannabis debate, before finalising any decisions, reported Pattaya News.

According to the PM, the final outline and draft of the changes will be ready by the end of 2024.

Ultimately, this conference follows the PM’s previous two attempts to recriminalise non-medical uses of cannabis. This move is sure to have significant opposition from pro-cannabis groups and entrepreneurs in an industry that now generates billions of baht and has thousands of shops, farms and employees nationwide.

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Top is a multifaceted news writer with a keen interest in real estate and travel. Top currently covers local Thai news at Thaiger. As a travel buff, Top blogs about his travels- around the world and Thailand- during his free time.

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