Malaysia eyes Thai weed policy

Malaysia eyes Thai weed policy

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul tries a cannabis-infused product at the Public Health Ministry in Nonthaburi province in May. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul tries a cannabis-infused product at the Public Health Ministry in Nonthaburi province in May. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says he is looking forward to a visit from his Malaysian counterpart who he says has expressed an interest in studying the Thai model for legalising cannabis for medical use.

After meeting the country's Thai ambassador, HE Dato Jojie Samuel, Mr Anutin said they had discussed details of Malaysian Public Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin's forthcoming trip to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.

He said Mr Jamaluddin had expressed an interest in studying Thailand's cannabis policy during the 75th World Health Assembly in May as Malaysia weighs passing a similar law to liberalise medical use.

He said the ministry plans to take Mr Jamaluddin on a medical marijuana tour to study the extraction of cannabis cola or clustered flowers for health purposes.

"If Malaysia joins Thailand in legalising cannabis for medical use, even though our neighbour has much harsher narcotics laws than Thailand, I believe that would reflect well on our success in bringing the plant into our medical system," said Mr Anutin.

Mr Anutin also emphasised once again that the ministry does not approve of recreational use and has launched further regulations banning wrongful public cannabis from being taken in public places.

The House committee scrutinising the bill on cannabis and hemp is expected to finish work on the bill this week before presenting it for approval in parliament and royal endorsement, said Mr Anutin.

He also said the number of patients admitted with ill symptoms related to cannabis use has dropped in public hospitals.

"It shows that more people have acknowledged the proper way to use cannabis.

"From now on medical staff can openly prescribe cannabis-based medication and patients can safely rely on cannabis treatment," added Mr Anutin.

However, Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt expressed concern that students might still be able to buy cannabis products even though their sale to anyone under 20 years old is prohibited.

"The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration [BMA] cannot interfere with the enforcement of cannabis decriminalisation but we will control its sale, especially by vendors in the capital. We have launched protocols to limit access to cannabis products by students," said Mr Chadchart.

He added the BMA is screening to ensure vendors are certified by the Public Health Ministry.

Neeranuch Arphacharus, director of the department's Legal Affairs Division, said smoking cannabis in public is considered a nuisance under a public health announcement issued on June 15.

Violators can be reported to the authorities for investigation, she said.

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