Head psychiatrist warns of pot use, calls for govt action

Head psychiatrist warns of pot use, calls for govt action

Psychiatrists are concerned that easier access to cannabis is putting people with mental health disorders at greater risk, said Dr Chawanan Charnsil, head of the Psychiatric Association of Thailand yesterday.

Dr Chawanan told media at the 22nd WPA World Congress of Psychiatry event organised in Bangkok from Aug 3-6 that people have been widely using cannabis for recreation purposes ever since the plant was struck off the list of narcotic drugs in early June.

The use of cannabis has not been limited to medical treatment purposes as aimed by the Public Health Ministry, he said.

"We have seen a big loophole for the use of cannabis for recreation," Dr Chawanan said.

"We need a law amendment on cannabis use to protect society from harm. We have no objection to cannabis use for medical treatment but it must be done through the advice of a doctor."

Dr Chawanan said there was now a greater chance that someone living with a mental health disorder may use cannabis which could result in serious adverse effects. He cited a study by the National Institutes of Health in the US in 2021 that recorded the behaviour of 280,000 people in relation to cannabis use.

The study found only 3% of participants who had no depression symptoms and non-frequent use of cannabis were prone to commit suicide, compared with 15% of those who regularly used cannabis.

Dr Afzal Javed, president of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), said psychiatrists agree that excessive use of cannabis worsens mental health problems.

Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the draft cannabis bill is expected to be forwarded to parliament for readings this month.

Mr Anutin insists the bill will be a significant tool in preventing the improper use of cannabis.

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