Cannabis 'pushed off' drugs list

Cannabis 'pushed off' drugs list

ONCB source says draft may flout pacts

The Ministry of Public Health's committee on narcotic control on Thursday endorsed a draft ministerial announcement under a new drug law that excludes some cannabis from the narcotics list.

Dr Thongchai Kiratihatthayakon, the ministry's deputy permanent secretary, said a majority voted to support the draft, which was approved by a sub-committee.

The draft will be forwarded to the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) for consideration on Tuesday. The meeting will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

If approved, the draft will be signed into law by the public health minister and announced in the Royal Gazette for promulgation.

"We have completed our task to push cannabis off the drug list," Dr Thongchai said.

Dr Paisarn Dankum, secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said the FDA will draft a regulation for controlling cannabis plantations.

"There is a possibility the draft might contain a new law on cannabis, which is similar to laws on kratom," he said.

He added that removing cannabis from the narcotics list is expected to increase income generated by the cannabis-beverage business from 280 million baht last year to 7.6 billion baht in 2025.

Praves Mulpramuk, a committee expert, said the law will mean ordinary people can legally cultivate cannabis without permission from authorities, but permission will be required for commercial cultivation.

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul thanked the committee for its approval, saying, "We have spent two and a half years getting to this stage".

Meanwhile, a source from the Office of the Narcotic Control Board (ONCB) voiced concern the draft proposed by the Ministry of Public Health might be against international narcotic conventions.

"We need to carefully consider the pros and cons of the project," he said.

"If there is illegal cannabis smuggling, what kind of law do we need to implement given it is no longer a narcotic?"

"We don't intend to retain our control over a substance that is no longer illegal, especially if it is being used for medical purposes, but the way it is used must be in line with the conventions that we have signed," the source said.

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