Budget panel fears legal weed could hurt tourism
The House committee deliberating the budget bill for fiscal 2023 fears the decriminalisation of cannabis could have an adverse impact on tourism because the plant is still illegal in many countries.
Koranis Ngamsuthonrattana, a Palang Pracharath Party MP and the committee's spokeswoman, said the panel raised concerns about the matter on Tuesday as it discussed budget allocations for the Public Health Ministry.
Some committee members questioned whether the legal consumption of cannabis would affect tourism and whether there are studies showing how long cannabis stays in the body's system. They also wondered if related agencies had come up with any measures to prevent schoolchildren from taking cannabis in schools.
Critics say that despite the decriminalisation of cannabis, the government has not introduced enough regulations to prevent its use from being abused.
This could ruin Thailand's reputation as a tourist destination, they said.
Officials from the Department of Medical Sciences (DMS) told the committee that cannabis is detectable in urine for 6-7 days after use when used moderately. In regular users, it may be detectable in urine for 2-3 months.
A urine test cannot confirm the most recent use of the plant, but it can be detected in the blood within 12 hours, DMS officials said.
Dr Paisarn Dunkum, secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), told the committee that the Public Health Ministry has issued a ban on cannabis smoking in public areas where it can cause annoyance and selling cannabis to people under 20 years old.
He added the FDA has approved the use of cannabis as an ingredient in about 1,400 food and beverage products.
These products have been strictly controlled with laboratory research and product labels showing the legal content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabis' active ingredient, he said.