Will Thailand follow Canada's lead on pot?

Will Thailand follow Canada's lead on pot?

People are very capable of finding a way to please themselves. But whether their means are decent or not is another story. Today, it is rather complicated to justify one’s choice even though it might sound unacceptable.

Canada made global headlines last month when it officially legalised marijuana for recreational use on Oct 17, some 17 years after it permitted the use of medicinal marijuana. That was a historic day for many Canadians who took to the streets to celebrate the end of the prohibition.

Now it became the world’s second country to legalise the drug in full. The first was Uruguay, not to mention at least nine states in America that have given the green light to recreational use with many more allowing it for medical reasons.

Known as ganja in Thai, marijuana has long been banned in most parts of the world as the plant naturally contains addictive chemicals that harm our health. At the same time, however, it has become a topic for debate as many studies have found that common marijuana can actually be transformed into magical medicine that can help ease pain and undesirable conditions resulting from cancer treatment as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

That’s probably why many countries, mostly in the western world, have turned to legalise the drug for medical purposes over the years. Among those so far are Australia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and the UK.

In Thailand, marijuana has been categorised as a Class 5 narcotic since 1979, meaning it’s illegal to grow or sell the drug. To prep the marijuana legalisation, though, the Ministry of Public Health is considering to re-classify cannabis into Class 2 so that it can be used for medical purposes just like morphine.

Despite growing demands -- especially by those in the medical field -- for marijuana to be used as an alternative for medical treatment as quickly as possible, the government only promised to permit the growing of marijuana for medical research purposes last week.

Considering what is happening in Canada, it’s quite an irony that while we are struggling to have legal marijuana to help our miserable fellows, all adults in Canada can go far as to buy, grow and even consume the weed just for fun.

Understandably, the ban persists out of concerns about the potential fallout of legalisation in several aspects but I’m positive that we can always learn from the aforementioned countries in order to make it a success story of our own.

Even though I agree with the ongoing attempt to push for legal medical marijuana, I never fancied the idea of allowing it as part of our recreational activities in any way. Drugs of any kind are harmful to health and I don’t think their addictive substances will get any less dangerous just because they are made legal.

The case of Canada doesn’t only make me curious to know if full legalisation is truly the right track but it also makes me wonder why people there didn’t choose to turn to any other options that can keep them entertained without risking their own health in the first place.

So far, there are a lot of debates over the benefits and harms of marijuana with some studies showing that the drug’s effects are less harmful than those associated with tobacco or alcohol abuse. Still, I don’t think we should trust our lives with addictive substances of any kind unless very necessary.

Marijuana is notable for bringing a sense of relaxation and euphoria to smokers but too much of it can cause an acute psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions and a loss of the sense of personal identity.

Looking at only the good sides of the drug, I still believe that it’s highly possible for them to become addicted to these pleasant experiences to the point where they will have to rely on the drug to feel happy.

It’s still a long way to go for Thailand to follow in Canada’s footsteps. But I wish the issue will encourage all of us to look back and question our ability to enjoy life in a simple and constructive way. We should make sure that we never get lost in our pursuit of happiness, no matter what.


Patcharawalai Sanyanusin is a writer for Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Patcharawalai Sanyanusin

Writer

Patcharawalai Sanyanusin is a writer for Life section of the Bangkok Post.


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