Weed use leaps after law eased
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Weed use leaps after law eased

Science to inform relisting: Somsak

The public health minister says cannabis use among young adults is now 10 times greater when compared to two years ago before decriminalisation, and he believes the government's plan to relist cannabis as a narcotic must be based on scientific reasoning.

Somsak Thepsuthin on Saturday said the ministry had underlined the importance of figures in dealing with the cannabis problem. Two years ago, the plant was delisted as a narcotic. Since then, many cannabis shops have opened in cities across the country, sparking debate over its effects on people's health and crime rates.

Mr Somsak said a study by the Center of Addiction Studies from Chulalongkorn University showed that cannabis use among young adults is now 10 times greater when compared to before the plant was legalised.

Moreover, research in the United States found cannabis also affects the brain and can knock eight to nine points off a user's IQ, he said, noting that this finding in particular concerned the government.

As for cannabis businesses concerned about the policy flip-flop, Mr Somsak said: "The Narcotics Control Board decided [to delist cannabis] at the time but that doesn't mean the decision is unchangeable.

"If there is change, it will be for the benefit of the people. I will invite all stakeholders to come to a consensus on the issue," he said.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin recently said he wanted to put cannabis back on the narcotics list, with an unclear explanation as to how it might be done.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health has not yet spelt out how it might seek to amend the law on cannabis, saying it needs to listen to stakeholders first.

Supachai Jaisamut, adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and member of a Bhumjaithai Party, which spearheaded the unlocking of cannabis from the narcotic list in the previous government, said the Srettha administration has clearly spelt out a case for the continuing use of cannabis for medicine and health.

The government also has a policy to increase the economic value of cannabis, which received consensus from all government parties, he added. So, the best solution is to have a law to control cannabis use, he noted.

He said the current 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol limit on cannabis products falls in line with drug agency guidelines in the United States and the European Union.

He added that in his view, Thailand must have a law to control its use, not to relist cannabis as a narcotic.

He said the party has done its job by drafting a revised cannabis legislation and has submitted it for parliament's consideration. It should be supported by all parties, he said.

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