Thai PM Calls for Cannabis to be Reclassified as a Narcotic, Intensifies Efforts to Combat Illegal Drugs


On May 8th, 2024, a conference was convened by Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, engaging relevant agencies to address narcotic issues and advocate for the reclassification of cannabis as a type 5 narcotic drug.

According to Thai national media, Mr. Anutin Charnvirakul, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Mr. Somsak Thepsuthin, the newly appointed Minister of Public Health, Pol. Col. Thawee Sodsong, the Minister of Justice, and relevant officials, were briefed by Srettha on policies aimed at resolving narcotic challenges in Thailand.

The scourge of narcotics constituted a pressing national concern demanding concerted efforts at both local and national levels, said Srettha. Despite proactive measures by Thai authorities and relevant officials to combat illicit substances and drug trafficking, drug use remained alarmingly high, attributed to the continued activity of drug lords and local dealers, remarked Srettha.

The second topic of interest centered on defining criteria for drug addicts and dealers found in possession of illicit substances, aiming for clarity and precision. Srettha instructed the Thai Ministry of Public Health to revise regulations, suggesting a shift from “a small amount” to possession of “one pill of illicit substances” to establish clear legal standards and ensure effective enforcement between dealers and users.

We previously covered the controversial five pill methamphetamine regulation here.

Srettha stressed that even possession of a single methamphetamine pill would incur accountability and fines and jail time unless the person could prove they were not a dealer and an actual addict.

Srettha underscored the need for diligent efforts by investigative police to ascertain intent and distinguish between drug addicts and dealers.

Additionally, plans were outlined for collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Public Health to enhance drug treatment efficiency within prison and probation systems, including rehabilitation processes for drug addicts.

Srettha also raised a proposal to utilize military camps for drug addict rehabilitation as a potential model, although budgetary considerations and feasibility were subject to ongoing discussions. Srettha called for this de-facto war on drugs to take place over the next 90 days.

The last important subject was Srettha’s proposal for the reclassification of cannabis into a type 5 narcotic drug. It was a main policy of the current Thai government to bring cannabis back as an illegal narcotic drug and allow it only for licensed medical and health reasons, after it was decriminalized in 2022.

The Ministry of Public Health was assigned to look into how to amend legal regulations to allow the use of cannabis for medical and health aspects only. The final outline and draft on how to do so would be complete by the end of 2024, stated Srettha.

Somsak Thepsuthin, the new Public Health Minister, aware of the removal of his predecessor who had been trying to appease both sides of the cannabis debate, has said he would take time to listen to everyone’s opinions and invite all sides for discussion before making final decisions and a draft on amending regulations around cannabis.

Some media has stated that the decision to make cannabis a narcotic seems to be final, but TPN media notes that in reality it is in for many months of debates and discussion between pro and anti cannabis groups, regardless of personal feelings of the Prime Minister who has consistently supported banning recreational and reinstating cannabis as a narcotic.

The PM has already missed two “promises” to essentially recriminalize marijuana, one last October and one in Songkran of this year, so it is unclear how much the end of the year’s current goal will stand up once firm opposition to make cannabis a narcotic again begins.

The proposal to make cannabis a narcotic again and criminalising non medical use 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.

TPN media wrote about the recent removal of the last Thai Health Minister and how this is likely to change the direction of cannabis in Thailand here.

We also had a guest editorial from a reader and cannabis expert HERE which proposes a better regulatory approach versus recriminalization.

Kittisak Phalaharn
Kittisak has a passion for outgoings no matter how tough it will be, he will travel with an adventurous style. As for his interests in fantasy, detective genres in novels and sports science books are parts of his soul. He works for Pattaya News as the latest writer.