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Health minister faces backlash regarding cannabis

Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew has faced backlash from pro-legalisation activists in Thailand following his approval of a new draft of the cannabis and hemp control bill. Activists criticized the minister for not fulfilling his commitment to public consultation before submitting the draft to the Cabinet.

Prasitchai Nunual, the secretary-general of Thailand’s Cannabis Future Network, expressed disappointment on Facebook, emphasizing the need for public involvement in policy drafting to ensure scientifically sound outcomes.

Nunual also highlighted the government’s inconsistent approach to regulating cannabis, methamphetamine pills, and alcoholic beverages. While cannabis usage in the new draft would require a doctor’s prescription, possession of up to five methamphetamine pills, a classified narcotic, is not considered a criminal offense. He called on the Public Health Ministry to improve officials’ understanding of cannabis, methamphetamine, and alcohol to create a more effective control framework.

Daycha Siripatra, president of the Khaokwan Foundation, supported Nunual’s concerns, pointing out inconsistencies in the proposed control framework. He argued that regulating cannabis similarly to tobacco and alcohol was flawed, considering the significantly higher death toll associated with tobacco and alcohol use compared to cannabis.

Siripatra suggested that the new bill may serve the interests of groups facing declining sales as people turn to cannabis for relief from symptoms like pain or insomnia.

Minister Cholnan clarified that the proposed bill aims to prohibit recreational cannabis use, but in-home medical use would be allowed if the correct procedures are followed.

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