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Former monk arrested for drugs in Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: A former monk was one of six suspects arrested in drug raids in Kathu, Phuket earlier this week.

Following a tip-off that a man living in a hut had been selling drugs to local youths, a Thung Thong Police drug suppression unit on Sunday raided the dwelling, located in a rubber plantation near Bang Wad Reservoir in Kathu.

They arrested alleged drug dealer Jongrak Chuchumcheun, 45, before he had a chance to flush a small stash of drugs down the toilet. Seized as evidence was less than a gram of ya ice (crystal methamphetamine) and, after a search of the hut, three grams of marijuana and an old, legally-licensed rifle.

Thung Thong Police Inspector Teeradate Jiragsa told a press conference that Jongrak, a former monk, might have taken enough drugs “to turn him crazy,” but said he wasn’t sure if he had used drugs when he was a monk.

Another officer at the conference who happened to grow up with Mr Jongrak in Trang described him as a “good student” as a youth.

Also attending the press conference was a woman, accompanied by her boyfriend, that the former cleric accused of property theft after his arrest.

The unnamed woman denied the allegations, stating that after his arrest she had removed Mr Jongrak’s birds and Buddha images from the hut for safekeeping. She intended to hand them over to his father, she said.

Research into Mr Jongrak’s background revealed that he and the woman were acquainted from his days as a monk in Sichon district, Trang.

After leaving the order he moved to Phuket, where he was to keep an eye on the rubber plantation.

“When Jongrak was a monk in Trang, this woman always provided him with food, clothing and other necessities. He thought that she was in love with him,” Capt Teeradate said.

Police believe that Mr Jongrak kept annoying the woman and, following his arrest, told police that she stole his birds and Buddha images.

Also presented at the press conference were six other suspects arrested on Monday, the first day of the “Operation Tapee” nationwide drug crackdown ordered by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung.

Most were caught in possession of small amounts of narcotics. One was charged for illegal possession of a firearm.

— Atchaa Khamlo

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Thailand

Thai FDA expedites the process to list cannabis as an “essential medicine”

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai FDA expedites the process to list cannabis as an “essential medicine” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Healthserv.net

Cannabis could soon become an “essential medicine” in Thailand. While the plant’s euphoria-inducing buds are still illegal and classified as a narcotic, other parts of the plant that do not cause a “high,” like the leaves, are being pushed into the food and medicine industry.

The Thai Food and Drug Administration is even trying to speed up the process to include cannabis on the National List of Essential Medicines and to also allow it to be used in food, according to the FDA secretary general Supattra Boonserm. Yesterday, the FDA committee approved a draft ordinance to allow the once-criminalised plant to be on the essential medicines list as well as to be an ingredient in food.

“Users can put oil extracts from cannabis in breakfast cereals, bakery products, beverages, snacks or butter as well as in food supplements.”

There are 2 main components in cannabis: tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, and cannabidiol, known as CBD. THC is the psychoactive component which causes the “happy-hungry high” while CBD is understood to have health benefits and has been used to treat anxiety and insomnia. THC is still illegal in Thailand.

Since the Public Health Ministry approved the use of cannabis and hemp for medical and research purposes, more than 50,000 patients in Thailand have been prescribed cannabis-based treatments, according to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

Anutin says the FDA’s move to expedite the process of listing cannabis as an essential medicine is intended to make sure there is a sustainable supply of cannabis and the products are available to those who need it.

“The efficacy and safety of medical cannabis will continue to be reviewed, and the findings will be used to support further changes to medical cannabis laws.”

The health minister spoke at the official opening of the Ministry’s Institute of Medical Cannabis, which will be the coordinating agency to make sure cannabis-based products are in line with government policies.

“The institute will also provide accurate information about the plants and their use, as public interest in the plants have grown.”

More than 300 community enterprises have joined with the ministry to grow cannabis for medical and research purposes, Anutin said. He adds that households with permission from a local hospital can grow up to 6 cannabis plants on the property.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Cannabis

Thai government hopes cannabis will be a primary cash crop for farmers

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai government hopes cannabis will be a primary cash crop for farmers | The Thaiger

While marijuana traffickers are still getting busted by police, many smuggling the plant across the Mekong River, the Thai government is encouraging local farmers to grow cannabis, as long as they partner with a provincial hospital to use the plant for medicinal purposes. A deputy government spokesperson told Reuters the government hopes that cannabis and hemp will be a “primary cash crop for farmers.”

Late last year, Thailand removed certain parts of cannabis off the narcotics list. Parts of the plant with high amounts of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, are still classified as a Category 5 narcotic.

So far, 2,500 households in Thailand and 251 provincial hospitals have legally grown 15,000 cannabis plants, according to deputy government spokesperson Traisulee Traisoranakul. She says those interested in growing cannabis have to seek approval from authorities. Universities, community enterprises and those in the medical industry can obtain licenses to grow cannabis.

“Everybody has the right to grow marijuana by partnering up with provincial hospitals for medical use.”

With the declassification of certain cannabis parts, the plant can be used in food and beverages at restaurants. Over the past few months, some cafes and restaurants have started to offer dishes made with cannabis leaves. Traisulee says cannabis used in food ends to come from an approved producer. She says the Medical Marijuana Institute will hold information sessions next month.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Thailand becomes more cannabis-friendly after leaves removed from narcotics list

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand becomes more cannabis-friendly after leaves removed from narcotics list | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook/ ไปเลย

With cannabis leaves now off Thailand’s narcotics list, the once taboo and criminalised plant is making its way into daily life in Thailand. Since the government decision in December to remove certain parts of the cannabis plant from the narcotics list, Thailand’s first cannabis cafe “Taste of Ganja” opened in Prachin Buri and another called “420 Cannabis Bar” just opened in Bangkok. The Bangkok dessert shop Kanom Siam also announced it was adding a special ingredient to its pandan coconut Thai pancakes… cannabis.

The Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine is even encouraging the public to use the plant… as long as it has very low traces of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The plant’s THC-rich buds are still illegal.

The department recently held a 2-day informational event at the Museum of Public Health and Medicine in Nonthaburi, just outside Bangkok, to educate people about the various uses of cannabis… and probably not the uses you’re thinking of. There were no tips on how to make a gravity bong out of household products or how to make cannabis butter for magic brownies. Tips were more like how to use the plant’s stems and fibre to manufacture textiles and paper as well as how to use the leaves to make cannabis tea.

Some are using the cannabis leaves in foods. The leaves have very low traces of THC and won’t cause a “high.” At the Taste of Ganja, people can munch on deep fried cannabis leaves and stir fried meat with basil and cannabis leaves. The cafe is affiliated with Chao Phraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital which opened Thailand’s first medical cannabis clinic in 2019.

The 420 Cannabis Bar offers cannabis teas and drinks with names like Stoner Plummer, which is made with plum soda, and Herbs Party, which is tea made with lemon. Prices range from around 125 baht to 145 baht. The bar also serves Fly High Cookies and Happy Brownies for 180 baht. Despite the names, the food and drinks won’t get you stoned.

Cannabis buds are still classified as a Category 5 narcotic with fairly harsh penalties. Police are continuously cracking down on the illegal marijuana trade. Just over the weekend, officers seized 484 kilograms of dried, compacted cannabis, commonly known as “brick weed,” in a bust by the Mekong River in the Isaan province Nakhon Phanom, which borders Laos.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post| Coconuts Bangkok

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