Control weed, don't kill it
text size

Control weed, don't kill it

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin may mean well in attempting to re-list cannabis as a narcotic, but his aim only attests to his mediocre knowledge about the plant and the dilemma facing the country.

Cannabis was decriminalised in 2022 by the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration. The liberalisation of the plant was the flagship election policy of Bhumjaithai, a coalition party, ahead of the 2019 polls.

As a result of the 2022 policy shift, only products containing over 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol or THC -- which is cannabis' main psychoactive agent -- by weight were considered illegal.

It's unclear why Mr Srettha wants to push for the re-listing. He stunned not only pro-weed activists, but also the then-health minister, Dr Cholnan Srikaew, when he gave an interview with a French media channel about the re-listing. Dr Cholnan subsequently had to quell concerns, ruling out re-criminalisation of the plant.

As if to remind the PM, Dr Cholnan said the government had told parliament that cannabis would be used for medical purposes, while its recreational use would be prohibited. Growing cannabis was still possible -- but permission would be needed from the authorities.

According to Dr Cholnan, the draft law concerning cannabis control was complete and was pending consideration by the Council of State, the government's legal arm, before being submitted to parliament. The latest attempts to re-criminalise the plant have angered pro-weed activists who vow to rally. They are urging the government not to strip the public of its right to use cannabis.

To calm the angry activists, Dr Cholnan said "the government makes decisions in the best interests of the people" -- which was too general a statement, if not meaningless.

On the one hand, he pledged he'd listen to every party regarding the status of cannabis. On the other hand, the former public health minister then instructed the Public Health Ministry to reclassify the plant by the end of the year. This is ironic, if not hypocritical.

Now Somsak Thepsutin, the new health minister, has agreed to meet the pro-weed activists.

The major problem of cannabis is the 2022 decriminalisation came at a time when the country had no control mechanisms, and that was unfortunate.

As a result, weed shops mushroomed amid legal gaps and what followed were cases of young people obtaining cannabis from irresponsible traders. Several misused the plant, consuming it together with other kinds of narcotics.

The lack of labelling codes, another problem, was blamed for accidental consumption that caused health issues and a number of people rushed to stigmatise the plant that had been used traditionally by health practitioners, not only in Thailand but its neighbours, because of its herbal benefits.

Thailand has come far regarding its cannabis policy, and there is no point in reversing it. Mr Srettha should keep the right focus and, instead of over-reacting, recognise the main problem of cannabis in this country: its unregulated usage.

Tackling this problem requires sound and practical laws. He must also ensure the blurred lines between its medical and recreational uses are dealt with properly. An unclear definition over what "recreational use" entails could enable authorities to abuse their power.

Mr Srettha should keep his promise of listening to all sides, and not rush to recriminalise the plant, but instead support laws that will control its usage.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email :

Do you like the content of this article?