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Thai PM drills down on his campaign to close down recreational cannabis

Thai PM Srettha Thavisin has issued directives to his Public Health Department and other ministries to ramp up measures against drugs, including reclassifying cannabis as a Class 5 narcotic and restricting its use solely for medical purposes.

In a meeting held at the Government House, attended by key officials including Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Public Health Minister Somsak Thepsutin, the PM stressed the need to address drug issues at the grassroots level. This involves cracking down on both big and small-scale dealers and offering robust treatment and rehabilitation programs to prevent relapses among addicts.

The PM assigned the Justice Ministry, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, and the Narcotics Suppression Bureau to collaborate in apprehending drug dealers and confiscating their assets to dismantle drug networks.

Furthermore, the Public Health Ministry was instructed to review its controversial regulation regarding possession of methamphetamine pills, aka. Yaba. The current regulation allows possession of fewer than five tablets without legal prosecution, hindering law enforcement efforts, according to the PM. He proposed reconsidering this regulation to enable charging individuals with even a single pill for personal use.

Regarding cannabis, which was decriminalised in Thailand in 2022, the PM urged the Public Health Ministry to reclassify it as a category 5 narcotic and stipulate clear guidelines permitting its use exclusively for medical and health-related purposes. Recreational use of cannabis would be closed down, according to the PM’s wishes.

The meeting addressed utilising military camps as temporary rehabilitation centres for drug users. The Prime Minister directed the Public Health Ministry to collaborate with the army to identify a suitable camp for a pilot program lasting 3-6 months.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, the PM stressed that combating drug problems is a “top government priority” as they pose a significant threat to the nation’s youth. He urged all agencies to intensify efforts in investigating, arresting, seizing assets and treating drug addicts.

The PM demanded a progress report on the matters discussed within 90 days.

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