Narcotics bill to be vetted soon: Anutin
Draft allows home planting of cannabis
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Monday said that the new narcotics bill, which contains guidelines on the use of medical cannabis, will be vetted in parliament soon, paving the way for patients and investors to seek state permission to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes.
At a seminar on medical cannabis on Monday, Mr Anutin vowed to continue to push for the promotion of hemp and cannabis as the country's new cash crops.
The government's policies on cannabis, hemp and other herbs are oriented towards developing them as medicines, creating economic opportunities, and setting up mechanisms to prevent negative effects on society, he said.
The Public Health Minister said he has instructed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to hasten the process of making hemp and cannabis-based medicines widely available, without breaching any laws.
The administration has forwarded a draft of the revised Narcotics Act to the Council of State for a review. Once completed, the draft will be sent to the House of Representatives and parliament to be endorsed and executed.
The new narcotics act would allow anyone to plant cannabis at home, both for medical purposes or as a cash crop, with permission from the FDA.
The contents of the draft are far more liberal than what his party had campaigned for in the last election, the minister said.
"I spent one year working with the FDA to revise narcotic laws. I understand the problems and I pledge that we will make cannabis more accessible to the public for medical use, and its use will not lead to unwanted effects," the health minister said.
"Hemp could generate income for people once home planting is allowed."
After the draft is passed, the ministry is expected to include cannabinoids in the country's list of essential medicines, which means that the 30-baht universal healthcare scheme will cover the use of medical cannabis.
As of now, if patients under the universal health coverage need to use medical cannabis, the costs are covered by the ministry's spare budget, Mr Anutin said.
The use of medical cannabis must be strictly controlled due to the plant's psychoactive effect. A comprehensive tracing-and-tracking mechanism must be put in place to prevent its abuse, the minister said.