MPs 'may resign' if ganja bill stalls

MPs 'may resign' if ganja bill stalls

Cannabis legislation due for deliberation

A woman with a cannabis bud used for distribution to passers-by around Government House on Tuesday. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
A woman with a cannabis bud used for distribution to passers-by around Government House on Tuesday. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Some 20-30 MPs may resign in protest if a new bill legislating the use of cannabis and hemp fails to clear the House, according to Kharom Polpornklang, a renegade MP from the Move Forward Party (MFP).

Speaking ahead of the second and third readings of the controversial bill that are expected today, Mr Kharom said those lawmakers could quit if their parties do not put the public interest first.

Mr Kharom, who has allied with the Bhumjaithai Party that is sponsoring the bill, also voiced his objection to a move by opposition MPs who asked the Administrative Court to intervene.

Earlier, the main opposition Pheu Thai Party asked the court to issue an injunction to halt the decriminalisation of cannabis and hemp until there is a more thorough law on cannabis controls. The MFP sought a similar injunction from the same court via the Office of the Ombudsman.

"Let me say this. An old political party, and those who claim to have popular support, don't care about the people. Those who want to put cannabis back on the narcotics list are wrong and we disagree with them," he said. "If the bill fails to be passed by the House, it is possible several MPs may do something. Some 20-30 MPs might quit because they disapprove of the party putting its interests before those of the public."

The MPs he was referring to are believed to hail from several parties who disagree with the cannabis bill being dropped.

Mr Kharom is also thought to have directed his remark at the Democrat Party, which changed its stance despite voting for the bill during its first reading.

Bhumjaithai MP Saritpong Kiewkhong claimed that a campaign is underway to derail the passage of the bill. He said it is being spearheaded by businesses that stand to lose from the decriminalisation of cannabis and hemp.

Mr Saritpong said those firms are working with politicians who lack a strong sense of public responsibility despite knowing that a large group of Thai people have used cannabis as a form of treatment in traditional medicine or as a food ingredient.

Meanwhile, chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang said he was not sure if the bill would be considered this week because two other draft laws take precedence, and both may require lengthy debates. The House is expected to spend at least two weeks examining the cannabis and hemp draft law, he added. In September, the House voted 198 to 136 with 12 abstentions to withdraw the bill for improvements out of concern that its contents failed to guarantee full protection for youths.

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