The Narcotics Control Board of Thailand recently received a rewritten draft of the country’s drug control laws. This officially puts Thailand in the position to legalize cannabis. The proposed revision is going through Thailand’s parliamentary process. If passed, the law will allow medical cannabis to be sold over-the-counter to any patient that has a valid doctor’s prescription. There is currently an interim parliament in Thailand’s Cabinet and they will soon be voting on the revision. The vote is predicted to pass without opposition.
According to Narcotics Control Board Director Sirinya Sitdhichai, patients will only be allowed to access cannabis for medical purposes. Unlike many legal states in the US, patients will not be allowed to grow any plants for personal consumption. Law enforcement agencies in Thailand, including its own public health department, have stated that they are not opposed to this move once passed. This position does come unexpected as prior policy called for long incarcerations and, in some cases, execution of the accused. An increasing number of countries are now also reconsidering this approach. To lock up drug offenders has proven both costly and ineffective. Not to mention, damaging to countless communities. The forward moving trend is progressing toward health care and harm reduction.
“Doctors in our country are still divided into two opinions,” said Sitdhichai. “Some fear that if we legalize it for recreational use, children may use it, and it may impact their brain development. We are looking at both the good and the bad.” The move toward legalization is still a touchy subject for many in Thailand, though it’s been an open discussion for years. In 2016 the previous Justice Prime Minister of Thailand Paiboon Koomchaya, stated that the war on drugs was a complete failure. This position presented an opportunity to discuss legalizing medical cannabis for adults. In the 1980s, Thailand was a leading exporter of cannabis. Through pressure from the American government, the trade was eventually ceased. As of late, however, attitudes have been changing in both countries.
Thailand has again revisited this notion in the recent past. In August of 2016, the government discussed relaxing the laws around cannabis and considered decriminalization as a possibility. Some of the laws did change shortly after which allowed farmers to grow hemp as part of their crop. Legalization in Thailand will set precedent as it being the first Asian country to accept and allow medical cannabis. Thailand’s Narcotic Control Board is also setting a clear example of how public perception can change. Through the support of its citizens and education, countries around the world are proving to move forward. The effort will be another step forward in global cannabis reform.
By Tracy Jerome Chisley (@PoeticPanther)
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