Cannabis bill vetting to be done by August

Cannabis bill vetting to be done by August

Bhumjaithai Party MP Supachai Jaisamut, chairman of a House committee scrutinising the cannabis and hemp bill, said the committee should finish work on the bill by August.

The committee has no intention of delaying the bill, Mr Supachai said.

He said that decriminalisation of cannabis will help boost growers' income and this should not be outweighed by overblown reports about its side effects.

Pushing through the decriminalisation of cannabis was among Bhumjaithai's flagship campaign policies in the 2019 election.

Parnthep Pourpongpan, the committee spokesman, said there is no need to issue an executive decree to control the use of cannabis pending the bill's passage.

Previously, Senator Somchai Sawangkarn warned that if the bill was not passed during the current parliamentary session, it would have had to wait another year for the next parliament.

That would leave a vacuum for curbs on its recreational use needed to protect the young, he added.

Mr Parnthep said the committee initially concluded that those who grow cannabis plants in areas covering less than five rai would be considered small-scale growers, and thus would not be required to pay registration fees.

"This shows that the bill does not benefit major businesses," Mr Parnthep said while also defending the benefits of cannabis.

"Many who use cannabis sleep better and they don't commit any crime. Those who commit offences and claim they take cannabis should be checked to see if they also use other kinds of drugs or drink alcohol," he said.

Mr Parnthep further said the committee vetting the bill comprises representatives from the government, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, lawyers, academics and the civil sector.

Some have supported the use of cannabis for recreational purposes, he said, adding that the committee will gather public opinions to improve the bill.

However, Anusorn Iamsa-ard, deputy secretary to Pheu Thai's strategic committee, said the party has not opposed the use of cannabis for medical purposes, though the liberalisation for recreational purposes must be controlled.

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