11 July 2024

The Thai Ministry of Public Health has rescinded its recommendation to the police that they take legal action against people found to have committed any of four offences in violation of the Protection and Promotion of Traditional Thai Medicine Wisdom Act B.E. 2542 (AD 1999).

Deputy Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Narong Saiwong and Dr. Yongyot Thammavudhi, director-general of the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTAM), held an urgent press conference yesterday(Wednesday) to announce the decision to rescind the recommendation letter sent to the Royal Thai Police on Tuesday.

The letter recommended that police arrest people who do not have permission to conduct research on, export, sell or process cannabis for commercial purposes, said Dr. Narong, adding that the recommendation was intended to protect those under 20, pregnant women and breast-feeding women.

He said that health officials have carefully scrutinised the letter and recommended that it be reviewed by DTAM, to ensure the utmost benefit to the people.

Meanwhile, Dr. Yongyot said that the legal affairs panel of the department wants the ministerial edict on the use of cannabis to be amended, to make sure that people who use medicinal cannabis are not affected and that legal action cannot be taken against those who have conducted research, sold, exported or processed cannabis before the enforcement of the edict.

More importantly, he said that the rules must recognise that cannabis is useful for medical purposes and for boosting the economy and it should not be re-criminalised.

The legal affairs panel also suggested that only cannabis flowers should be placed under control and people who make use of the other parts of the plant for commercial or other purposes should be allowed to carry on with their activities, said Dr. Yongyot.

The problem of the widespread use of cannabis, particularly for recreational purposes, stems mainly from the fact that cannabis was decriminalised on June 9th, before the narcotics law is amended to govern its use. The amendments bill is still pending in parliament. To solve this problem on a temporary basis, the Public Health Ministry has decided to classify cannabis as controlled herb.