Pot arrest 'linked with Big Pharma'

Pot arrest 'linked with Big Pharma'

Daycha Siripatra, chairman of the Khaokwan Foundation
Daycha Siripatra, chairman of the Khaokwan Foundation

The arrest of Khaokwan Foundation activists, including founder Daycha Siripatra, for harvesting marijuana might be linked to Big Pharma, according to deputy agriculture minister, Wiwat Salyakamthorn.

"I believe big pharmaceutical companies have played a part in the arrest. They might be affected if local researchers can develop medicine from marijuana," Mr Wiwat told media on Tuesday.

The deputy agriculture minister is one of many supporters of the Khaokwan Foundation, a respected civic group that advocates for traditional farming and sustainability practices.

The foundation has conducted medical research on marijuana and has distributed extracts to patients in critical condition for five years.

The foundation was raided last Wednesday by police, who found around a hundred marijuana plants there.

Civic groups have launched the viral #SaveDecha campaign to protest against the arrest. So far, over one million baht has been donated to the civic groups fighting the charges, according to Witoon Lianchamroon, the director of one of the supporting civic groups, the Biothai Foundation.

"It is unusual and against the law to make an arrest while the period of amnesty is still valid. The foundation is in the process of declaring the weed possession during the period granted by state agencies," said Mr Witoon.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given a 90-day period to declare marijuana cultivation, and the deadline is on May 19. Under the new narcotics law, marijuana use is only allowed for medical treatment, and possession and cultivation must first be approved by the responsible agencies.

Apart from civic groups, the case also received support from politicians and parties, such as the Bhumjaithai Party that includes legalising weed cultivation in their party platform.

The Suphan Buri Provincial Court on Tuesday granted bail to Pornchai Choolert of the Khaokwan Foundation, who was arrested during the raid.

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