Govt celebrates legal weed with million-plant giveaway

Govt celebrates legal weed with million-plant giveaway

With the Department of Agriculture ready to hand out up to 1 million cannabis plants to interested people, a paediatricians' organisation has issued a strong warning regarding the effect that chronic use can have on young minds.

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Mananya Thaiset said yesterday two cannabis plants would be dispensed to a maximum of 500,000 interested families.

Ms Mananya said that the giveaway would follow the legalisation of cannabis on Thursday and anyone interested could file their application on June 16 at cooperative offices in their provinces and agricultural research and development centres in 53 provinces.

There would also be an online channel for the purpose, she said.

For those worried they might miss the million-plant handout, the Public Health Ministry will also distribute seeds of high-quality Thai cannabis varieties, Ms Mananya said.

As cannabis seeds become widely available, she advised buyers to choose only seeds certified by the Department of Agriculture to avoid substandard ones.

Rapeepat Chantarasriwong, director-general of the department, previously announced the plan would go into action this month until December, at a rate of roughly 100,000-200,000 plants per month.

Registrants will receive the plants about 30 days after applying. People in Greater Bangkok can register at a department service centre in Kasetsart University from June 16 onwards, Mr Rapeepat said.

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Paediatricians of Thailand has said that it is concerned about possible negative impacts of the change in the law on the young.

Dr Somsak Lolekha, chairman of the college, said yesterday that people aged below 20 years should avoid consuming cannabis extracts or risk mental health conditions as well as behavioural and emotional problems.

Although the government cam- paigned for the use of cannabis for medical, household and economic purposes, not for recreation, there remain concerns about practical control of its use, Dr Somsak said.

According to him, the legalisation of cannabis will also see greater access to the drug among vulnerable groups, including children and teenagers, who may use it for recreational purposes.

Despite its regulation, the active cannabinoid ingredient is still a potentially psychoactive substance that poses a risk to some people's health, he said.

Dr Somsak said that as well as a number of well-documented behavioural problems the drug can cause, use has also been linked to schizophrenia, suicide and dependence on other addictive substances in some groups of patients.

He said that people younger than 20 years old should not consume cannabis at all because their brains have yet to fully develop and they are therefore more susceptible to the negative side effects consumption of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can have.

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