11 July 2024

The Bhumjaithai party’s flagship piece of legislation, the draft Cannabis-Hemp Bill, which has already passed its first reading in the House of Representatives, was dealt a major setback when the House voted yesterday (Wednesday), by 198:136 and 12 abstentions, for the review of the Bill to be withdrawn from the House meeting agenda.

The Bill was supposed to be deliberated by the House yesterday in its second reading, but Democrat and opposition MPs from the Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties voiced opposition to the Bill, which they claim has been extensively altered during the scrutiny process, after the first-reading of the original version.

During the debate yesterday, Democrat MP Satit Wongnongtaey sought consultation from fellow MPs before further deliberation of the Bill, pointing out that the original version had 45 sections, but the amended version has 69.

He noted that almost every section of the original Bill has been amended and asked the House if the Bill could be withdrawn from the meeting agenda for another review.

He also said that, since the Bill was initiated by the Bhumjaithai party, it is possible that it would not be approved by the Council of State, government’s legal arm, and relevant state agencies in its current form.

Pheu Thai MP for Maha Sarakham province, Sutin Klungsang, said he agreed with Satit’s proposal to withdraw the Bill for another review, because the amendments have adversely impacted the original essence of the proposed legislation.

Move Forward party-list MP, Dr. Wayo Assawarungruang, suggested that Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul should annul the ministerial edict, dated June 9th, which removed cannabis from the list of Category 5 narcotics.

Bhumjaithai party list MP and head of the Bill’s scrutiny committee, Supachai Jaisamut, defended the amended bill, claiming that the committee had exercised great caution when making the proposed changes.

He maintained that the committee had taken into consideration feedback from all stakeholders, adding that he has no idea what needs to be further amended.

He refused to withdraw the Bill from the meeting agenda, prompting Democrat MP Satit to ask Deputy House Speaker Suchart Tancharoen to call for a vote.