Calls for swift passage of new weed bill

Calls for swift passage of new weed bill

Research and traditional medicine groups are rallying behind the prompt enactment of a bill currently stalled in parliament which seeks to exploit cannabis and hemp for medicinal and research purposes.

The groups, including the Association of Researchers of Thailand (ART), the Thai Industrial Hemp Trade Association and the Union of Thai Traditional Medicine Society handed a joint statement to parliament president Chuan Leekpai endorsing the bill on Monday.

The letter was submitted through Dr Sukij Atthopakorn, adviser to the parliament president.

Pipat Nonthanathorn, ART chairman, said the association has been monitoring the bill with interest as it had conducted training and research on cannabis and hemp for four years.

He said the plants have the potential for profitable mass production and, after the bill has been vetted by the parliament committee, would broaden access for sufferers of some illnesses to new treatments and medicines.

Mr Pipat allayed concerns that the plants were prone to recreational abuse, adding that Public Health Ministry regulations provide sufficient protection against misuse.

The draft bill could also add stiff criminal punishments against the sale of the plant to underaged people.

To prevent a legal vacuum from persisting for too long, the draft bill should be returned to parliament and put to the second and final reading and be passed by the senate as soon as possible, he said.

The bill was previously pulled from parliament after the Democrats and the Pheu Thai parties demanded it be more thoroughly scrutinised, arguing the legislation failed to adequately protect people from the harm of the plants.

Bhumjaithai Party MP Supachai Jaisamut, who chairs the panel overseeing cannabis- and hemp-related laws, said the scrutiny committee has had its final meeting and the concerns expressed by the two parties have now been fully resolved.

Mr Supanchai said he hoped that the bill can now be slotted into the House's agenda and promptly returned for deliberation and enactment before the current parliament tenure expires in March.

The decriminalisation of cannabis and hemp, which was a flagship election policy by the Bhumjaithai Party, may have run into problems due to some people enjoying too much freedom in using the plants, he warned.

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