Cannabis banned at universities

Cannabis banned at universities

Ministry move affects unis, agencies

Students attach stickers with messages banning cannabis use at Ban Bang Kapi School in Bangkok last Thursday. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Students attach stickers with messages banning cannabis use at Ban Bang Kapi School in Bangkok last Thursday. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) has banned the sale of food and drinks with cannabis as an ingredient as well as use of the plant for recreational purposes on the premises of universities and agencies under the ministry.

MHESI Minister Anek Laothamatas signed an announcement aimed at controlling the use of cannabis on those premises, with immediate effect.

Universities and agencies under Public Health Ministry supervision are required to strictly follow ministerial regulations on the use of cannabis and other related laws, the announcement said.

University students and agency staff are not allowed to use cannabis recreationally, while university executives and agency chiefs are instructed to ban the sale of food and drinks with cannabis as an ingredient; the items also cannot be brought into universities and agencies, it said.

University executives and agency heads have also been told to organise activities or produce media to educate students, staff and people living in nearby communities about the proper use of cannabis with aim of addressing the potentially harmful effects on health of cannabis extracts containing amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabis' psychoactive ingredient, in excess of the legal limit.

The use of cannabis for medical purposes must be supervised by medical professionals and research on the plant must be closely monitored by university executives, according to the ministry.

University executives and agency chiefs may also issue additional measures to prevent adverse effects of the use of cannabis.

Previously, Dr Prasit Watanapa, dean of the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, banned use of cannabis in foodstuffs and drinks on the university's premises.

The use of cannabis and hemp as an ingredient is forbidden, as is the advertising of cannabis-based products, an announcement said.

Also, those who receive services at the university, including staff and students, are not allowed to use cannabis recreationally.

The university supports the use of cannabis in accordance with recommendations from medical professionals.

However, anyone below the age of 20 and pregnant women are advised to avoid its use given the potentially harmful effects on health, it said.

The BMA recently declared all city-run schools under its jurisdiction as cannabis-free zones.

The de-listing of hemp and cannabis from the government's list of Category 5 narcotics took effect on June 9 following the publication of a Ministry of Public Health announcement in the Royal Gazette.

Consequently, the production, import, export, distribution, consumption and possession of cannabis and hemp are now legal.

Nonetheless, cannabis oil extracts containing more than 0.2% THC are still considered a Category 5 substance and regulated by the kingdom's narcotics control and suppression laws.

Meanwhile, according to an opinion poll the majority of people agree with the removal of cannabis from the Category 5 narcotics list, saying the plant can be used for economic gain and medical purposes, although respondents remain concerned it may be used inappropriately by children and youths.

The survey by the National Institute of Development Administration, or Nida Poll, was conducted on June 13-15 by telephone interview with 1,310 people aged 15 and over.

Asked how they viewed the removal of cannabis from the drug list, 58.55% agreed with it.

Of those in favour, 34.81% strongly agreed, saying it is a valuable plant that can generate income and be used for medical purposes.

Another 23.74% said they were in moderate agreement with the law change, saying the plant is more useful than harmful.

Conversely, 41.45% were in total disagreement with 24.98% saying it would be harmful to children and youths and the government has not been able to control its use.

Another 16.56% were in moderate disagreement, saying use of cannabis is hazardous to health.

Asked whether they worried about improper use of cannabis among children and youths, 42.44% said they worried very much; 29.62% said they were concerned to a certain extent; 16.95% were not at all worried.

Asked how Thais would use marijuana in the future, 34.05% chose medical purposes; 31.15% recreational purposes; 22.21% for use in food and drinks; and 12.59% for various commercial products.

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