11 July 2024

Hundreds of doctors and alumni of the Faculty of Medicine at Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, have issued a statement demanding an immediate end to the recreational use of cannabis, claiming that it poses a threat to the public health system and to the short and long-term health of the people.

The statement, which was signed by 851 medical personnel, said that the Public Health Ministry’s announcement removing cannabis and hemp from Category 5 of the illegal narcotics list came into force on June 9th, while there is no policy on how to control their use, resulting in widespread use of the plants for recreational purposes, including by the young.

The results, said the statement, contradict claims that the decriminalisation was intended to increase public access to medicinal cannabis.

The group also claimed that there are many scientific and research papers which show that cannabis has negative effects on the brains of young people.

They also voiced support for a network of academics and civil society organisations, who earlier issued an open letter to the government calling for the suspension of the decriminalisation of cannabis and for hearings to allow all stakeholders to participate in the drafting of a national cannabis policy. They also called for the launch a campaign, via the change.org platform, which has been signed by thousands of people, to suspend the recreational use of cannabis.

Decriminalisation of cannabis and hemp is the flagship policy of the Bhumjaithai party, the second biggest government party led by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. The problem of the recreational use of the herbs by the young stems from the fact that cannabis and hemp were decriminalised while amendments to the Narcotics Act, to regulate the use of the two plants and their extracts, are still pending in parliament.

To solve this problem temporarily, on June 16th, issued an announcement declaring cannabis and its extracts to be controlled herbs, which is supposed to prevent people under 20 and breast-feeding women from using them. Use of the substance in public including smoking is also prohibited. The classification, became effective the following day.