The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) has no authority to alter or reverse any ministerial announcements signed by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul concerning the decriminalisation of cannabis, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Monday.
Mr Wissanu was responding to media reports yesterday that the ONCB was today due to discuss the possibility of reversing two ministerial announcements of the Ministry of Public Health signed by Mr Anutin, an action which may lead to cannabis being listed as a narcotic drug as it was before it was formally removed from the Type 5 narcotic drug list.
The ONCB may raise questions over concerns made by the cabinet and other parties and request the Ministry of Public Health to help explain any issues accordingly, said Mr Wissanu.
“The fact is the board cannot delay, suspend or amend these ministerial announcements as it has no authority to do so at all,” he said.
Mr Anutin, meanwhile, insisted that, in his opinion, there is no chance that cannabis would ever again be listed as a narcotic drug.
He also insisted he has the full authority to sign the ministerial announcements and forward them to the Secretariat of the Cabinet for publication in the Royal Gazette to declare them effective.
There are both supporters and opponents of marijuana’s decriminalisation in Thailand, said Mr Anutin. Marijuana decriminalisation, he said, is actually beneficial not only to the country’s healthcare sector but also to the government’s efforts to generate income and boost the economy.
“What still needs to be done is to put in place a legal mechanism to effectively curb the abuse of cannabis for recreational purposes,” he said.
The House of Representatives is expected later this week to begin further deliberation of the bill on cannabis and hemp, intended primarily as a legal mechanism to specifically restrict the use of cannabis for medical purposes only.
In another development, the YNAC, a youth group campaigning against cannabis and narcotic drugs, submitted an open letter to ONCB secretary-general Wichai Chaimongkol asking the ONCB to explore ways to nullify the Ministry of Public Health’s removal of cannabis from the narcotic drug list.