Thailand to crack down on marijuana use after decriminalization 2 years ago

Thailand to crack down on marijuana use after decriminalization 2 years agoThailand to crack down on marijuana use after decriminalization 2 years ago
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Michelle De Pacina
February 14, 2024
Thailand will be cracking down on recreational marijuana use due to concerns about youth drug abuse and rising crime. 
Widespread concerns: Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalize marijuana in 2022, driven by promises of economic benefits, particularly for farmers, from the Bhumjaithai Party.
The initial legalization has reportedly led to an under-regulated market despite intentions for marijuana to be for medical use only. Cannabis reportedly remains easily accessible through unlicensed establishments and online platforms, leading to a significant increase in the number of individuals seeking treatment for cannabis-related psychological issues. The problem has stoked widespread criticism that the under-regulated market has led to issues like drug-related violence and increased youth consumption. 
New bill proposal: This has led Health Minister Chonlanan Srikaew to propose a bill banning recreational use while permitting medical cannabis. The Cabinet is anticipated to endorse forwarding the draft bill to Parliament shortly, although it has not yet addressed it in its latest meeting. The preliminary version of the legislation proposes making recreational cannabis use punishable by a fine of 60,000 baht ($1,660). While the bill permits medical marijuana, specifics regarding its regulation have not been provided.
Supporters of the bill: All major political parties, including Bhumjaithai, pledged to restrict cannabis to medical use in their 2023 election campaigns. Kalyapat Rachitroj, a lawmaker from the opposition Move Forward Party with a medical background, said that while the plant has economic and healthcare benefits, its usage has since been abused. 
“We have no option but to put marijuana back to be classified as narcotics once again,” Rachitroj told the Associated Press.
Opposers of the bill: However, others argue against a complete rollback. Cannabis advocates and entrepreneurs oppose drastic measures, attributing problems to inadequate regulation enforcement. Rattapon Sanrak, the founder of Thailand’s first legal cannabis shop, believes reclassification would be an overreaction and impractical due to the industry’s growth.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who disagrees with the control of use for underage children,” he said. “Sellers … also don’t want to see those street vendors who sell without a license. People who don’t like it, people who are users, people who operate businesses, I think these parties have to find a common ground on how to exist together.”
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