Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul signed a ministerial announcement on Tuesday officially recognising the delisting of cannabis and hemp as narcotic substances.
Mr Charnvirakul, also leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, which had adopted cannabis delisting as a flagship election campaign policy, hailed the signing as a “historic” moment as it means people will be able to legally use cannabis for both medical and economic purposes in Thailand.
He said that once delisting comes into force, cannabis and hemp can be grown for personal consumption and sold, within limits, they are regarded by law as economic or commercial plants.
The delisting excludes cannabis and hemp extracts containing more than 0.2% by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical responsible for most of cannabis’s psychological effects.
It will come into force 120 days after the announcement is published in the Royal Gazette, the date of which has not yet been set.
Earlier, the announcement was approved by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB). On Tuesday, it was returned to the Public Health Ministry and Mr Charnvirakul, as the final authority, signed it.
“This marks a new chapter in the history of cannabis. We have reached a crucial juncture where narcotics are transitioning to legal plants able to serve medical and industrial purposes,” he said.
However, the minister stressed that both cannabis and hemp will still be tightly regulated and anyone who abuses the rules will be liable for swift punishment.
The Bhumjaithai Party has also sponsored a draft bill on cannabis and hemp, which is being categorised as a financial law requiring Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s endorsement before it can be deliberated in parliament.
Public health permanent secretary Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit said on Tuesday the bill has been submitted to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, who determined it contained some content of a financial nature.
As such, the bill needs to go to the prime minister who must decide whether he agrees with pushing to enact such legislation.
According to Dr Wongrajit, before the bill was forwarded to Mr Leekpai, the cabinet acknowledged the government policy being directed toward delisting cannabis and hemp as narcotic substances.
The bill pertains to the specific manner and methods in which cannabis and hemp are grown, harvested, extracted and researched.
Dr Wongrajit said that two weeks ago, the prime minister pledged to help expedite the legislative process of the bill leading him to assume the bill would be given the green light.