House panel to clear confusion over the legal status of cannabis in Thailand
The House Public Health Affairs committee has invited representatives of the Royal Thai Police, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), the Ministry of Public Health and relevant agencies for a discussion this Thursday at parliament, to clear up the confusion over whether cannabis is still regarded as an illegal narcotic or is now a herbal drug which can be cultivated legally.
Opinions are split. On one side are the ONCB and other law enforcement agencies, which insist that cannabis is still regarded as a narcotic drug and the cultivation of cannabis is illegal. On the other side insist that the amended narcotics law, which came into effect on December 9th last year, has removed cannabis from Category 5.
Pakorn Mungcharoenporn, chair of the House Public Health Affairs Committee and a Bhumjaithai MP for Surin province, said that the narcotics law has already been amended and came into effect in mid-December, yet some law enforcement officers still invoke the old law.
Cannabis is a herbal drug, said the MP, adding that the plant could be a new economic crop, which could help boost the incomes of Thai farmers who want to migrate to cultivating it.
He praised Suphachai Jaisamut, a fellow Bhumjaithai MP and vice chairman of a House committee tasked with amending the narcotics law, for having openly announced that cannabis is no longer regarded as an illegal narcotic in Thailand.
The Bhumjaithai party, whose leader, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, played a crucial role in amending the narcotics law to legalise cannabis.
Anutin explained, however, that since the Public Health Ministry has not yet issued a ministerial announcement to legalise cannabis, the cultivation of possession of cannabis can still be considered to be illegal, adding that, if cannabis is prescribed for a medical purpose, police should not arrest for possession.
Former Democrat MP Nipit Intharapitak, however, warned people who plant cannabis that they may end up in prison.
Former member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Vicha Mahakhun, said that cannabis is no longer of an illegal narcotic, after the amended narcotics law came into effect in December.