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Cannabis Controversy Ignites: Thai Groups Slam Legalization, Call for Reversal Amid Health Chaos!

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At the Nonthaburi Green Market 2023, visitors eagerly examined bongs as local farmers, growers, and other cannabis-related businesses displayed their products in the Pakkret district last week (Photo: Chanat Katanyu). However, not everyone is thrilled with the government’s decision to legalize cannabis – a network of doctors, academics, and civil groups recently published their seventh open letter opposing the move.

In this latest letter, the group urges the public to vote for political parties that do not support removing cannabis from the list of narcotics or promoting its cultivation as a cash crop. There has reportedly been a significant increase in accidents and adverse reactions on mental and physical health since cannabis consumption was liberalized last year.

Back on June 9 of the previous year, the Bhumjaithai Party successfully removed cannabis from the list of Type 5 narcotics. As a result, most parts of the plant can now be used, with the exception of elements containing more than 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by weight. The members behind the open letter noted that, even before this decision, the medical use of cannabis had been permitted since 2019 while it was still classified as a narcotic.

Due to the removal of cannabis from the Type 5 narcotics list, the plant and its derivatives have become more accessible. However, without a legal framework controlling and monitoring the production and use of cannabis, recreational use has significantly increased, the letter stated.

The group also pointed out that if the Bhumjaithai Party truly wanted to promote cannabis as a cash crop, legalization should have been managed by the Ministry of Commerce or the Ministry of Industry. Yet, the Ministry of Public Health appears to have taken on the role of cannabis promoter rather than regulator, as noted in the statement.

The authors of the open letter concluded by urging people to reconsider voting for political parties who endorse cannabis legalization in the upcoming election on May 14. Medical workers, academics from various fields, and civil workers who support cannabis restrictions have all signed this open letter. Some notable individuals who signed the letter include former senior Health Ministry official Chatree Banchuen, former secretary-general Central Narcotics Control Office Niyom Termsrisuk, and adviser to the International Narcotics Control Board Viroj Sumyai.

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