BMA says 'no' to pot hub at Khao San Rd
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has firmly rejected calls from business owners to turn Khao San Road into Thailand's cannabis hub.
Deputy Bangkok governor Jakkapan Phiewngam said the famed tourist hotspot is unlikely to be positioned as Thailand's cannabis hub as many schools and temples are located in its vicinity.
Furthermore, he said, only the Public Health Ministry can regulate the cannabis trade, not the BMA.
Mr Jakkapan said the nation's image may suffer if Khao San Road is turned into a cannabis hub in the absence of regulations that ensure all products sold are safe and of high quality.
The deputy governor said the BMA will follow the Maintenance of Cleanliness and Orderliness of the Country Act (1997) to ensure the sale of cannabis-based products does not ruin the capital's reputation.
At present, vendors and stall owners wishing to sell cannabis-based products are required to register them with their local district offices. Products which have been registered with authorities cannot be altered in any way without the district office's permission.
He went on to remind the public that it is still illegal to publicly sell food and drinks infused with cannabis, before adding the city's law enforcement agencies have been ordered to comb all districts in the capital for such products, especially around school areas.
Governor Chadchart Sittipunt also expressed his concerns about cannabis promotion in the city, saying viral videos showing vendors openly selling may ultimately harm the city's reputation.
He urged relevant agencies to ramp up public service announcements to discourage people from using cannabis recreationally, before warning the public that recreational use is still considered illegal in Thailand.
Sanga Ruengwattanakul, President of the Khao San Road Businesses Association, said the government should not miss the opportunity to use cannabis to promote tourism.
To limit the adverse impact of legalisation on society, the government should instead push for ID verification at points-of-sale to prevent sales to minors, and require vendors and shop owners to set aside space for consumption as public smoking is illegal.
Mr Sanga said that Khao San Road could play an important role in promoting the responsible use of cannabis among foreign tourists, urging tourist hubs such as Pattaya and Phuket to take a similar step.