Premier supports medical use of cannabis
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Premier supports medical use of cannabis

Recreational use is out under his govt

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin says he disagrees with allowing recreational use of cannabis, though its medical use would remain a policy under his administration.

Asked to comment if some policies by coalition partners may not be implemented, Mr Srettha said the government is made up of coalition allies.

Pheu Thai must listen to them, but a sense of appropriateness must also be taken into account when it comes to implementing policies.

"We try to make sure budget is fairly allocated to support decent policies proposed by coalition parties," Mr Srettha, who also serves as finance minister, told The Standard, an online media.

Quizzed about liberalising cannabis, the flagship policy of the Bhumjaithai Party which is part of the Pheu Thai-led coalition government, Mr Srettha said he backs the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

"But we also have to treat Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul [Bhumjaithai leader] fairly. He has never raised the matter with me. He hasn't asked me to push Bhumjaithai's cannabis policy. We respect each other," Mr Srettha said.

Reminded that many people disagree with the free cannabis policy, as it affects young people aged below 18, Mr Srettha said he disagreed with the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.

"Drug problems are a bane of the country. I do not agree with its recreational use," the prime minister said.

When Mr Srettha outlined the government's policy statement in parliament on Monday, he did not mention anything about cannabis. However, the government policy document says that "cannabis will be used for medical and health purposes to increase economic values."

Mr Anutin said yesterday the cannabis policy has only ever been for medical purposes and economic benefit, adding that "efforts have been made to make people misunderstand that recreational use of cannabis is allowed without any control."

Liberalising marijuana

Cannabis liberalisation is one of the key election pledges made by Bhumjaithai ahead of the previous 2019 election.

Cannabis was delisted from the Category 5 list of narcotics in an announcement published in the Royal Gazette on June 9, last year, allowing people to legally cultivate and use cannabis as a household herb for medicinal purposes.

However, decriminalisation preceded passage of the legislation needed to control and regulate cannabis, which led to a free-for-all in the industry as businesses, many owned by foreigners, invested in cannabis outlets while users bought weed with little or any medical or consumer guidance.

Parliament has yet to pass the cannabis bill, which has led to questions over how far cannabis liberalisation has actually come.

The cannabis and hemp control bill was shot down in its second reading in parliament early this year.

This bill contains a raft of safeguard measures, such as a zoning law as well as much stronger legal penalties.

At the time, Pheu Thai and the Democrat Party opposed the bill, arguing cannabis should be put back on the narcotics list again as controls and regulations proposed under the bill are still lax.

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