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Anutin Charnvirakul’s Fight to Keep Cannabis Legal: Bhumjaithai Party Leader Opposes Recriminalization

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Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul made quite the statement when he stepped out to cast his vote in the general election on May 14, 2023. Donning a shirt adorned with a cannabis pattern, he showcased his unwavering support for his party’s controversial cannabis policy. This striking appearance took place in Muang district of Buri Ram, further emphasizing his commitment. (Photo: Surachai Piraksa)

On Tuesday, Anutin, who is also the Interior Minister, reiterated his strong stance on the cannabis issue, particularly concerning its potential return to the narcotics list. He firmly declared his intention to oppose any such move when it comes up before the Narcotics Control Board (NCB). Notably, he emphasized that while he would vote “No,” he would not compel the interior permanent secretary to follow suit, allowing for a free vote instead.

Both Anutin and the permanent secretary for interior sit on the NCB board as ex-officio representatives of the Interior Ministry, a 36-member body chaired by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. The bold move to decriminalize cannabis was one of Bhumjaithai Party’s flagship policies in the 2019 general election, spearheaded by Anutin during his tenure as public health minister.

However, political tides shifted when the current coalition government was formed, leading to Anutin’s appointment as interior minister while the health portfolio went to Somsak Thepsutin of the Pheu Thai Party, who is a proponent of reversing the cannabis policy.

“If there’s a cabinet reshuffle and Bhumjaithai Party gains the chance to oversee the Public Health Ministry again, I would ensure cannabis is removed from the narcotics list once more because it’s the party’s flagship policy,” Anutin confidently shared with reporters at Government House. He further cautioned that re-criminalizing cannabis would undermine investor confidence, making them wary of the country’s ever-shifting policies. “Investors need [policy] stability,” he asserted.

The push to reclassify cannabis as a narcotic has its supporters and detractors. Proponents of the move believe it is necessary, while opposition groups argue that cannabis has significant health benefits and is safer than legal substances like alcohol and tobacco.

Adding to the complexity, a health committee responsible for regulating illegal drugs voted predominantly in favor of reclassifying cannabis and hemp as narcotics. According to Surachoke Tangwiwat, deputy permanent secretary for public health, this reclassification is set to take effect on January 1. The committee plans to submit its findings to the NCB within the week.

“If the Office of the Narcotics Control Board concurs with our conclusion, the next step will be for the Food and Drug Administration to amend all cannabis-related laws and establish criteria for the plant’s usage,” explained Dr. Surachoke. He indicated that all relevant laws should be modified before the January 1 deadline to align with the new classification.


  1. Anna Marie July 9, 2024

    I think Anutin has a point. Cannabis has medical benefits that should not be ignored.

    • TechGuru88 July 9, 2024

      Medical benefits? It’s just another way to get high legally.

      • Dr. Jen July 9, 2024

        That’s a gross oversimplification. Cannabis has been proven to help with chronic pain, PTSD, and even epilepsy.

    • Don July 9, 2024

      Government flip-flopping on policies makes it hard for businesses to invest. We need stability.

      • Anna Marie July 9, 2024

        Exactly, and cannabis can be a huge economic boost if regulated well.

      • K. Nop July 9, 2024

        Stability is one thing, but what about public health?

  2. Lawrence D. July 9, 2024

    Returning cannabis to the narcotics list is a step backward. It’s about time we move forward and embrace progressive policies.

    • J. Smith July 9, 2024

      How is it progressive to make drugs more accessible? Think about the children.

    • Lawrence D. July 9, 2024

      Responsible regulation can prevent misuse. Banning it outright doesn’t help anyone.

  3. Sophia July 9, 2024

    Investors will certainly flee if policies keep changing. Anutin is right about that.

    • Mark R. July 9, 2024

      Investors will flee if the policy is unstable, regardless of what drug we’re talking about. What’s next, re-criminalizing alcohol?

  4. JazzManiac July 9, 2024

    This is Thailand, not Amsterdam. We need to consider our culture and social norms.

    • Emily July 9, 2024

      JazzManiac, cultures evolve. Cannabis has been a part of traditional Thai medicine for ages.

  5. Tom Lee July 9, 2024

    The health benefits of cannabis are undeniable, but we need strict regulations to prevent misuse.

    • Bobby789 July 9, 2024

      Strict regulations? Who will enforce them? This will just create more black market activity.

    • Tom Lee July 9, 2024

      If done correctly, enforcement can be managed. Look at other countries where it’s working.

  6. SkyWatch July 9, 2024

    I don’t see what the big deal is. Alcohol and tobacco are legal, and they’re way worse for you.

  7. Chai July 9, 2024

    Anutin should focus on real issues, not just keep pushing his party’s agenda.

    • Jo July 9, 2024

      Cannabis legalization is a real issue. It impacts public health, economy, and personal freedoms.

  8. Marissa T. July 9, 2024

    Can’t believe we’re even debating this in 2023. Cannabis should be decriminalized globally.

    • Dr. Greene July 9, 2024

      Global decriminalization might be a stretch. Each country has different needs and contexts.

  9. GreenGrower July 9, 2024

    Legalizing cannabis can revolutionize the agricultural sector in Thailand!

  10. Max W. July 9, 2024

    Why focus on cannabis when other drugs like meth are rampant? Prioritize better, government!

  11. FoodieFella July 9, 2024

    Cannabis edibles could be a game-changer for the culinary scene.

  12. Hannah July 9, 2024

    Think about the kids. We need to reclassify cannabis to protect the youth!

    • GamerGurl July 9, 2024

      Isn’t it better to regulate it properly so it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands?

  13. Johnathan K. July 9, 2024

    Anutin should stand firm. Backtracking now would be disastrous for the movement.

  14. Nina July 9, 2024

    Honestly, I’m torn. I see both the benefits and the potential risks.

    • Harry P. July 9, 2024

      It’s natural to be conflicted. The key is to have an informed, balanced approach.

    • Nina July 9, 2024

      I agree, but finding that balance is the challenge.

  15. Bhumjaithai Supporter July 9, 2024

    Anutin is doing what’s best for Thailand. We need more leaders like him.

  16. healthandwellness July 9, 2024

    Let science lead the way. Cannabis has proven medical benefits and should be treated as such.

    • RealisticRandy July 9, 2024

      Science is important, but so is common sense. We can’t rush into this.

  17. Wildflower July 9, 2024

    No more reprimanding cannabis! It’s a plant, not a poison.

  18. Clara J. July 9, 2024

    It’s so frustrating that we’re still fighting this battle. Legalize it already.

    • NatureLover297 July 9, 2024

      Exactly. Times are changing, and the law should too.

  19. ToughLove July 9, 2024

    Cannabis is a gateway drug. We’ve seen it time and time again.

    • OptimistD July 9, 2024

      The ‘gateway drug’ theory has been debunked by many recent studies.

    • ToughLove July 9, 2024

      Studies can say anything. I’ve seen the damage firsthand.

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