Ad Carabao lends voice to ganja campaign

Ad Carabao lends voice to ganja campaign

'The Public Health Ministry is stupid,' says veteran rocker who favours more liberalisation

Ad Carabao takes the stage Friday night in Muang district of Phetchabun, where he blasted the Public Health Ministry for dragging its feet on marijuana liberalisation. (Photo by Sunthorn Kongwarakom)
Ad Carabao takes the stage Friday night in Muang district of Phetchabun, where he blasted the Public Health Ministry for dragging its feet on marijuana liberalisation. (Photo by Sunthorn Kongwarakom)

PHETCHABUN: Rocker Yuenyong “Ad Carabao” Opakul has harshly criticised the Public Health Ministry for blocking more widespread use of marijuana as medicine.

The frontman of the evergreen songs-for-life band Cabarao used his outdoor concert in Muang district on Friday night to accuse the ministry of dragging its feet on giving free access to cannabis for everybody who wants to grow or use it for medical purposes.

“The Public Health Ministry is stupid,” he told 3,000 fans at the packed concert.

The government this year amended the Narcotics Act to exempt marijuana use for medical purposes from prosecution. But critics, including Daycha Siripatra, the Khaokwan Foundation founder who has conducted extensive research and promotes cannabis extract oil for medical treatment, have urged the ministry to fully legalise marijuana so that people can plant it at home and make money from selling it for medical use.

The amended law still prevents traditional practitioners from growing cannabis as state-issued permits are still required to grow the plant.

Authorities have defended their cautious approach, saying that ensuring the quality of medical marijuana is their priority. Ensuring that the right concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD) are extracted to make pain-relief preparations is also quite challenging.

So far, only the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) has full approval to grow and process marijuana. It expects to deliver its first pain-relief products to hospitals nationwide by the end of July.

The Public Health Ministry is still reviewing applications from universities and other groups to grow marijuana under carefully controlled conditions to supply to hospitals.

Ad Carabao said on stage on Friday that his perception of ganja had changed from viewing it as an addictive drug to a plant that can cure diseases like cancers.

His earlier views were reflected in a song released in 1982 that warned of the dangers of marijuana. The lyrics say ganja smokers will eventually “die under the ganja tree”.

“That was the only side I thought about 37 years ago,” Ad admitted. “Times change and the world and all Thais now know ganja is not an addictive drug and instead it is medicine,” he said.

His view is in line with that of the Bhumjaithai Party, which made liberalising marijuana a major plank in its election campaign platform. Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul is tipped to become the public health minister in the coalition government led by the Palang Pracharath Party. In that role he is expected to push for greater opportunities for farmers to grow marijuana as another potential income source.

Newin Chidchob, the Buri Ram godfather and main backer of Bhumjaithai, recently staged a three-day festival in the northeastern province that drew 150,000 people to exhibitions, workshops and other activities centred on marijuana.

Ad Carabao, meanwhile, vowed to support Mr Daycha in his campaign to free up cannabis for medical use. “I do not think the government can resist it,” he told his cheering fans.

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