Pot smokers told to hang fire for now
Private cultivation rules under way
Individuals who are planning to privately grow cannabis after the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) endorsed changes to the rule governing the use and cultivation of marijuana have been told to wait for the time being, as the new regulation still has some way to go before it comes into effect.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, the government's expert on legal matters, said the changes concern the use of certain cannabis products, not all, and have yet to be passed into law.
The changes come into force 120 days after they are announced in the Royal Gazette, he said, adding in that time, more regulations will be drawn up to define what constitutes the legal use of cannabis.
The ONCB -- which on Tuesday endorsed the Ministry of Public Health's proposal that effectively begins the process to legally recognise the use of cannabis and hemp in Thailand -- will now forward the proposal to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who will in turn endorse it before it is published in the Royal Gazette.
At the same time, the Bhumjaithai Party, which is led by Mr Anutin, is pushing a bill regulating the use of cannabis and hemp outside of research and medicinal purposes for further deliberation in parliament.
Mr Wissanu said on Wednesday anyone caught growing cannabis on their property before the changes come into effect will still be prosecuted.
"Just hold your horses for the time being," he said, adding the warning extends to recreational smoking.
"Until the law is cleared, caution should be exercised," he said. "It isn't something that can be done freely."
Mr Wissanu said he believed the bill regulating the use of cannabis outside the research and medical field will be passed by parliament within 120 days.
This bill, he said, would help allay concerns that the government's decision to ease restrictions surrounding cannabis use will put Thailand in breach of three international anti-narcotics conventions, of which Thailand is a signatory.
"The bill will show the country remains vigilant and committed to keeping the use of cannabis in check," he said.
The conventions, the oldest of which dates back to 1961, stipulate legal enforcement against narcotic substances in member countries. They bar any use of cannabis unless it is for medical and scientific purposes.
He said regulating the use of cannabis even for such reasons will prove difficult.
Authorities lack the ability to check quickly if the THC levels in a product are within permitted levels, which could lead to wrongful arrests, he said.