Ministry health

Department of Public Health reconsiders stance on tough legal action against cannabis users

A staff member holds a cannabis plant in the Government Pharmaceuticals Organization (GPO) medicinal marijuana greenhouse outside Chon Buri, south of Bangkok, on October 8, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has rescinded its recommendation to the police to take legal action against those found guilty of committing any of the four offenses in violation of the Protection and Promotion of Health Act BE 2542. wisdom of traditional Thai medicine (AD 1999).

Deputy Permanent Secretary for Public Health Dr Narong Saiwong and Dr Yongyot Thammavudhi, Director General of Thailand’s Department of Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTAM), held an urgent press conference yesterday (Wednesday) to announce the decision to cancel the letter of recommendation sent. Tuesday to the Royal Thai Police.

The letter recommended that the police arrest people who do not have permission to research, export, sell or process cannabis for commercial purposes, Dr Narong said, adding that the recommendation was intended to protect those under 20, pregnant women and breastfeeding women. .

He said health officials had carefully reviewed the letter and recommended that it be reviewed by DTAM, to ensure the greatest benefit to the public.

Meanwhile, Dr Yongyot said the department’s legal affairs panel wants the ministerial order on cannabis use to be amended, to ensure that people who use medical cannabis are not affected and that legal proceedings cannot be brought against those who researched, sold, exported or processed cannabis before the entry into force of the edict.

More importantly, he said the rules must recognize that cannabis is useful for medical purposes and to boost the economy and should not be recriminalised.

The legal affairs panel also suggested that only cannabis flowers be brought under control and that people who use the other parts of the plant for commercial or other purposes be allowed to continue their activities, Dr Yongyot said.

The problem with the widespread use of cannabis, especially for recreational purposes, stems mainly from the fact that cannabis was decriminalized on June 9e, before the Narcotics Act was amended to govern its use. The amendment bill is still pending in parliament. To temporarily solve this problem, the Ministry of Public Health has decided to classify cannabis as a controlled herb.