Months after decriminalising marijuana, Thailand in dilemma over misuse

Notable sections of civil society and politicians in Thailand want tougher regulations to access and use of marijuana after recent reports of overuse and use by children emerge.

Thailand became the first country in Thailand to decriminalise the sale and use of cannabis.

Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who spearheaded the legislation, billed marijuana as a cash crop, and endorsed it for medical use.

The move spawned several shops selling local and imported strains, pre-rolled joints.

However, since then, the use of recreational activities has seen exponential growth.

Now, doctors and some politicians want tougher regulations for the use of marijuana or even a ban.

The legislation to govern, cultivate, sale, and consumption of marijuana is still stuck in parliament as confusion over the aspects of legality remain.

“We’re in a vacuum,” senator Somchai Sawangkarn told a domestic broadcaster on Wednesday.

He said that the announcements by the health ministry had not curbed recreational use.

Thailand legalises cannabis – What does this mean?

The row over the marijuana bill reached the judiciary last week after the president of Thailand’s association of forensic physicians, Smith Srisont, filed a petition to re-list it as a narcotic.

“It was wrong to not have governing laws before unlocking cannabis … it is not being used medically, but recreationally,” he told reporters.

Many business owners, who have reaped profits ever since cannabis was decriminalised, support greater regulation over the use, but have ruled out recriminalisation.

The chief executive of a medical cannabis business, Adam Group, Akira Wongwan, said the profit margins for recreational cannabis were “super high”.

“Most people still think at least they can get the profits now, even if regulations change,” said Akira.

A report by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce has estimated that the sector could be worth $1.2 billion by 2025.

(With inputs from agencies)

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