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HOME // National News // Cannabis “relisted as a narcotic” before the end of 2024

Cannabis “relisted as a narcotic” before the end of 2024

PHOTO: An uncertain future for Cannabis in Thailand

“Somsak, who was justice minister under Prayut’s government, had supported the removal of marijuana from the Category 5 drugs list. “

Thailand’s new Public Health Minister Somsak Thepsuthin spoke to the media yesterday, claiming that the PM Srettha Thavisin has “directed him to reinstate marijuana as a Category 5 narcotic by the end of the year”.

To make this happen, the Public Health Minister said his ministry will have to amend its current directives and announcements.

Cannabis was removed from the narcotics list two years ago under a directive from the, then, Public Health Minister, Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul when he as also a duputy PM in the government of Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Bhumjaithai had campaigned in the 2019 elections with the promise to decriminalise marijuana for medical use and as a cash crop.

To form a coalition after election in 2019, Prayut Chan-o-cha had to do a deal with the 61 BhumJaiThai MPs to form a workable government. Removing cannabis from the list of category 5 narcotics was part of that deal.

But Somsak emphasised the need for comprehensive discussions among relevant government agencies to decide if the entire marijuana plant or only parts with psychoactive effects would be relisted as a narcotic. He noted that an international treaty controls “marijuana flowers and extracts, but not seeds and fibrous parts”.

He said that taking unilateral action without consulting other agencies could severely impact those practicing traditional medicine and conducting research.

“We need to collect comprehensive information. If the information is not complete, then there could be damages.”

Somsak, who was justice minister under Prayut’s government, had supported the removal of marijuana from the Category 5 drugs list. When questioned about his stance at the time, Somsak explained that as a coalition partner, “it was his duty to support the decriminalisation”.

He mentioned that, at the meeting, only the Foreign Ministry had opposed the decriminalisation at the Office of Narcotics Control Board meeting.

“Other representatives expressed their disagreement only after the meeting. We had to deal with the coalition partners with respect.”

In response to the potential relisting, a group of marijuana advocates announced plans to protest on June 9 (two years after the original delisting) if the plant is re-categorised as a narcotic, and if Somsak does not clarify his position.

Somsak stated he would be happy to explain his stance, assuring that marijuana’s status as a medical herb would remain unaffected.

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