The completion of the new cannabis and hemp control bill has not yet been finalized, according to Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew. The bill has not been forwarded to the cabinet for approval, as it is still undergoing drafting.
Dr. Cholnan clarified that what was previously sent to the cabinet were the ministry’s views regarding the bill and cannabis, in response to a letter from MPs who considered it financial legislation. The prime minister’s secretariat had requested the ministry’s opinions on the matter.
The drafting of the cannabis legislation is expected to be completed by next week, Dr. Cholnan added. However, there has been criticism from advocates of cannabis legalization who feel that the Minister endorsed the draft bill without consulting the civil sector, despite earlier promises to do so.
Dr. Cholnan reiterated his stance that cannabis should only be used for medical purposes, aligning with the prime minister’s policy statement to parliament. The legislation is being developed to support this principle.
According to Dr. Cholnan, cannabis extracts containing more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) would be classified as a narcotic. Existing cannabis shops were permitted to operate as they were granted permission to function as legitimate business establishments. The forthcoming bill intends to regulate the misuse of cannabis.
A representative from the Khao San Road Business Association, Sa-nga Ruangwattanakul, expressed concerns about the potential impact of restricting cannabis to medical use only. He stated that cannabis was one of the reasons why foreign tourists visited Khao San Road, as it is the only country in Asia where cannabis is not classified as an illegal drug. Cannabis shops on Khao San Road generate significant revenue, approximately 20-30 million baht per month, he added.
Mr. Sa-nga suggested that the government should consider designating specific zones for cannabis, such as tourist areas, in order to mitigate the potential consequences for cannabis shops in tourist destinations.
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