Thai Public Health Minister Anutin: “Cannabis decriminalisation a success”

The Bangkok Post

Public Health Minister Anutin Charvirakul on Tuesday declared the decriminalisation of cannabis a good policy with campaigns in place to ensure its proper use, as a senator warned of the need for proper legislation against its recreational use by young people.

Cannabis was decriminalised last Thursday.

Mr Anutin, also a deputy prime minister, said about 700,000 people had already sought licences for cannabis-related businesses and the cannabis-growing registration app had been used 20 million times.

“That exceeds the target,” he said. “The policy is good. The Public Health Ministry pushed it for its  economic and health benefits.”

Mr Anutin said the government allows people to register freely to grow cannabis for household use, while the makers of cannabis products must seek licences and the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of their products must not exceed 0.2% by weight. Any higher content was considered as being a narcotic.

The THC limit also applied to its use as a food ingredient.

Mr Anutin said he expected a bill on cannabis and hemp use would be passed during the present parliamentary session. The Public Health Ministry had already issued a notice prohibiting annoying use of cannabis in public places.

“We have sped up public relations, to inform people of the merits of cannabis and warn against unhealthy use,” he said.

Many cannabis-based medical formulae were already included on the national list of essential medicine, and they could be used to treat patients. The government would promote its use, to generate income, Mr Anutin said.

On Tuesday, senator Somchai Sawangkan warned that if the cannabis and hemp bill was not passed during the current session it would have wait another year, for the next parliament. That would leave a vacuum of controls on recreational use of cannabis needed to protect young people, Mr Somchai said.

He said the cabinet should issue a regulation to clearly ban any cannabis use for recreational purposes.

He said the examination of THC content was costly and laboratories with that capability did not exist nationwide.

“I support the medical use of cannabis but oppose its liberal, irresponsible and uncontrolled use,” Mr Somchai said.

Existing controls did not prohibit cannabis users from riding motorcycles or using roads and did not ban young people from using it, the senator said.

Police have previously said that driving under the influence of the plant would be treated the same way as driving under the influence of alcohol.



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