Panel to debate pot arrest rules

Panel to debate pot arrest rules

The House will organise a forum on Thursday to debate whether people should still be arrested for cultivating cannabis, as the plant has been removed from the list of narcotic plants, it was announced yesterday.

Pakorn Mooncharoenporn, chairman of the House committee on public health, said the issue stems from disagreements between law enforcement authorities -- including the Office of Narcotics Control Board -- on whether cannabis' delisting from the list of narcotics meant individual growers shouldn't be prosecuted for growing the plant.

Mr Pakorn -- an MP for Surin from the Bhumjaithai Party, whose flagship campaign promise in the 2019 election centred around the legalisation of cannabis -- said law enforcement agencies are failing to keep up with recent legal changes.

He said it is important for law enforcement agencies to be on the same page, as although the issue has been under public scrutiny for quite some time, many people still lack an adequate understanding of the law on cannabis.

The MP said that to reap the economic advantages of legalisation, there needs to be a change in the way society perceives cannabis.

"I think cannabis can bring vast economic opportunities that could help spur post-pandemic recovery," he said.

The committee has invited representatives of the ONCB, permanent secretary of public health, national police and other law enforcement agencies to Thursday's session, he said.

Separately, Vicha Mahakhun, dean of the Faculty of Law at Rangsit University and former national anti-corruption commissioner, said the enforcement of any regulations must not contradict other related laws.

He urged the police to compare the latest anti-narcotics law with the rules issued by the Public Health Ministry, which contains details on what constitutes illicit drugs, before arresting anyone for growing cannabis.

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