Thai health minister backs cannabis ban, citing surge in teen usage

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Cannabis and its high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) variants should be entirely prohibited for leisure use and return to the narcotics list, says Dr Rasmon Kalayasiri, the Centre of Addiction Studies director. This statement was a show of support for Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew’s proposed changes to the Cannabis and Hemp bill, initially proposed by former minister Anutin Charnvirakul and rejected by the previous House of Representatives.

Before the bill was presented to the House, a ministerial regulation had removed cannabis and hemp from the Category 5 narcotics list under the Narcotics Act. Dr Rasmon backed Minister Cholnan’s idea to modify the draft bill, restricting cannabis and hemp usage exclusively to medical and health purposes. The new proposal would prohibit recreational use, dismiss the idea of allowing the cultivation of 15 cannabis plants per household, and reclassify the cannabis flowering parts with high THC content as narcotics.

Medical professionals have no reservations about the medical applications of cannabis. However, they have noticed a rise in health issues, particularly among children, resulting from recreational cannabis use, reported Bangkok Post.

Research conducted between 2019 and 2022 revealed a tenfold increase in cannabis usage among 18 to 19 year olds, growing from 0.9% to 9.7%, despite its recreational use being illegal. This surge underscores the existing legislation’s inefficiency, according to Dr Rasmon.

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As a result, she suggests a law specifically designed to regulate the use of cannabis and hemp and to completely forbid their recreational use. While no such law exists currently, she recommends the immediate reclassification of high-THC cannabis parts as narcotics.

Two days ago, the Prime Minister of Thailand announced plans to revise the nation’s cannabis law and put an end to the free use of cannabis. PM Srettha Thavisin emphasized that cannabis should be used only for medical purposes.

As Thailand was the first country in Asia to remove cannabis from its list of illegal narcotics last year, Bloomberg interviewed the 61 year old Thai PM about the future of cannabis regulation in Thailand. To read more click HERE.

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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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