Majority of Public Feedback So Far on Draft Law Opposes Proposal to Make Cannabis Illegal Again in Thailand, Says Public Health Minister

National —

On June 13th, 2024, Thai Minister of Public Health Somsak Thepsuthin provided an update on the public consultation held from June 11-25 regarding a draft aimed at reclassifying cannabis as a type 5 illegal narcotic, which would essentially recriminalize cannabis in Thailand.

Somsak noted that the majority of public feedback so far opposes reclassifying cannabis as an illegal narcotic, with many commenting they prefer cannabis to be regulated and taxed like alcohol or cigarettes. However, he encouraged continued public participation, emphasizing that all comments would be considered before finalizing any legal draft.

Read about the Public Health Ministry seeking public input on cannabis reclassification amid protests and the introduction of new drug control regulations.

Once any final cannabis announcement is made in the Royal Gazette, the Ministry of Public Health will issue further regulations to outline the scope and methods for legal cannabis use. Somsak explained that officials would gather detailed information on cannabis use to draft these secondary regulations, which will follow the initial ministry announcement.

In response to inquiries from Thai national media about whether reclassification would lead to immediate arrests for those cultivating cannabis, Somsak clarified that enforcement of the new regulations if the law passes would not be effective until January 1st, 2025. By then, any current cannabis plants would have naturally died due to their short lifespan of 90-100 days.

He also seemed to hint that even if the law passes there may be some small level of legal cannabis possession allowed to avoid people being arrested for small amounts.

Addressing the question of whether the draft, which does not classify cannabis seeds as narcotics, implies legalization for cultivation of plants at home still, Somsak stated that it was too early to draw conclusions. He emphasized that public feedback would be crucial in shaping the final regulations, which will undergo further review by the Narcotics Control Board.

On the same day, Mr. Prasitchai Nunual, the secretary-general of the Network for Shaping the Future of Thai Cannabis, issued a statement criticizing the Ministry of Public Health’s decision to reinstate cannabis as a type 5 narcotic without establishing a joint committee to seek facts.

Read about the pro-cannabis activists marking two years of legalization with a sit-in at the Thai Government House, opposing recriminalization.

This refusal, they argue, disregards international conflict resolution principles and suggests policymaking without a factual basis. The cannabis network alleges that this move is driven by a coalition of financial interests lobbying the government to monopolize cannabis control for personal benefit.

In response, the network announced a temporary pause in their protests to prepare for a major demonstration on July 8th, 2024. They plan to collaborate with cannabis networks nationwide to reclaim cannabis from corporate monopolies, highlighting broader issues of economic monopolization in Thai history.

Mr. Prasitchai also noted that the majority of feedback of reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic was negative so far and said the government should listen to the public overall and regulate, not ban, cannabis.

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.