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Thailand’s cannabis farmers anxious over new coalition’s U-turn

cannabis in Thailand
Changes to cannabis laws in Thailand

Cannabis growers in Thailand are expressing concern about a potential U-turn on legislation governing the recently-decriminalised plant, once the Move Forward Party is officially in power. The Bangkok Post reports that small businesses cultivating the plant are calling on the new government to classify only cannabis buds as narcotics.

Even if the Move Forward Party fails to form a government, all other parties, excepting BhumJaiThai, have made it clear, before and during the election, that they will resist cannabis as an illicit narcotic, only allowing licensed medical uses.

One weed farm in the north-eastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima is a joint venture between Rajamangala University of Technology Isaan and a local community enterprise. Canabis One @KORAT grows thousands of plants for distribution and medical use. The facility was given an official licence by the last government to operate as a cannabis clinic. It offers several forms of medicine, made from the leaves, buds, and roots of the plant.

The CEO of Remedy Cann clinic, Sunisa Sobkratok, says she has concerns about the MoU drawn up by the Move Forward Party and its coalition partners. The MoU provides policy guidelines for the new administration and includes a proposal to re-list cannabis as a narcotic and introduce new legislation to govern use of the plant.

However, Sunisa says that many community enterprises have made significant investments, including in greenhouses. She believes re-classifying cannabis as a narcotic will mean such businesses taking a significant financial hit.

But the MoU, signed by eight coalition partners, is the least of Sunisa’s problems with the losing conservative parties, many with Army backing, haveing also made it clear they won’t support further liberalisation of cannabis and intend to wind back the current “chaotic” situation when they get a chance to vote in parliament.

Many businesses have been growing the plant for medicinal use, distributing buds to state medical institutions, as per the original intentions of the delisting of Cannabis from the narcotics list.

But Sunisa points out that after cannabis was decriminalised last year, many people started growing it at home, which also had a financial effect on small enterprises.

She is calling on the new administration to clarify what these businesses can do while remaining within the law, and what products they can offer using cannabis and the non-psychoactive parts of the plant. Sunisa says cannabis should continue to be promoted as a cash crop, but with clear legislation preventing its sale to under-age citizens.

“Community enterprises are being labelled as criminals because they grow the plant, but their greenhouses were built under the standards laid down by the Food and Drug Administration and Public Health Ministry.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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