Doubts on pot use linger over amended drug law
Experts are saying that both users and producers of marijuana-based drugs for medical purposes will face numerous restrictions under the amended Narcotics Act, despite the fact the government had just legalised the medical use of marijuana.
Several academics argued that under the newly-passed Narcotics Act, users and producers are subjected to rules that effectively serve to limit the use and production of marijuana-based drugs to the point where the production of such medication is no longer viable.
"If the conditions governing the use and production of the drugs are too restrictive, it might defeat the purpose of producing marijuana-based medications," said the dean of Rangsit University's Institute of Integrative and Anti-ageing Medicine, Panthep Puapongpan on Thursday.
Mr Pangthep said that even the government's plan to pardon patients and researchers convicted of violating the 1979 Narcotics Act promises no happy ending.
"I wonder how many would actually show up to apply for a pardon," he said.
To obtain the pardon, offenders must report to authorities within 90 days of the amended Narcotics Act coming into effect. The revised act was published in the Royal Gazette last week.
The issue of legalising the medical use of marijuana must be handled carefully, stressed Mr Panthep.
Echoing Mr Panthep's concern, Thiravat Hemachudha, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Medicine, called for measures to help assure the so-called "underground clubs" -- which illegally grow marijuana to be used for treating people suffering from illnesses -- that they could continue operating under the amended Narcotics Act.
"The government must be open-minded to get a complete database of all users and producers, as well as the knowledge of marijuana's medical properties," he said.
Groups which support alternative medical treatments should be given clear assurances that they can continue growing the plants without legal hindrances, said Mr Thiravat.
Furthermore, added Mr Panthep, experts are wondering whether authorities will have enough time and manpower to review the patients' request to be approved for marijuana-based treatments in a timely manner.