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Pro-Cannabis Advocates Stage Hunger Strike Against Thailand’s Recriminalization Plans

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Police stood watch as cannabis advocates staged a fervent protest on Wednesday outside Government House, voicing their opposition to the government’s plan to reclassify the plant as a narcotic. These proponents vowed to remain in protest until parliament enacts a law governing cannabis use. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

In a dramatic move, pro-cannabis activists began a hunger strike, pressing the government to heed their concerns. This came as the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) confirmed that certain parts of the plant are slated to become illegal come January 1. Mana Siriphitthayawat, the board’s deputy secretary-general, announced that the board is set to reconsider the criminalization of cannabis late this month. Should the proposal pass, the public health minister will expedite its publication in the Royal Gazette, aiming for it to be effective January 1, 2025.

The chosen date provides a few months’ grace period for businesses to adapt and obtain new licenses, ensuring compliance with the new regulations, Mana explained. The proposed law will ban the possession, importation, and sale of cannabis flowers and resin unless licensed by the Ministry of Public Health. Notably, cannabis seeds and other parts with low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, such as bark, leaves, roots, fiber, and stems, won’t be included in the re-criminalization.

“Once cannabis is relisted as a narcotic, its use will be strictly medicinal and must receive proper approval. Recreational users will face legal action,” emphasized Mr. Mana. “Cannabis shops must comply with stringent licensing criteria under a new ministerial regulation, allowing sales solely for medical purposes.”

Boonthida Somchai, spokesperson for the Bhumjaithai Party, pointed out that cannabis was only recently decriminalized, leading to significant investments in the industry. “Our party proposed a cannabis control bill which is far more reasonable than this abrupt reversal, which will surely shake investor confidence,” she remarked, echoing Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul’s sentiments from the previous day.

Meanwhile, leaders of the activist group Writing Thai Cannabis’ Future declared on Wednesday that they would escalate their protest with a hunger strike until the government agrees to conduct hearings on the benefits of cannabis. Their sit-in at Government House began on Monday, opposing the re-criminalization of cannabis.

Group leaders Prasitchai Nunual and Akaradet Chakchinda stated that their hunger strike was intended to compel the government to consider all relevant data before finalizing their decision on the plant’s future. “Cannabis is a medicine for humanity,” they argued, adding that re-criminalization would only benefit a few by creating a cannabis monopoly. They suggested that cannabis could be regulated under normal laws without resorting to the Narcotics Act.

Removing cannabis from the narcotics list was a cornerstone of the Bhumjaithai Party’s 2019 election campaign, a promise fulfilled by Mr. Anutin during his tenure as public health minister. Following decriminalization in June 2022, recreational use surged, with thousands of cannabis shops opening across the country. Although the Bhumjaithai Party pushed for a comprehensive cannabis bill, time constraints thwarted its passage in the previous government.

In the current coalition government, Mr. Anutin now serves as interior minister, while the health portfolio is held by Somsak Thepsutin of the Pheu Thai Party, which favors reversing the cannabis policy. Shortly after decriminalization, the Medical Council of Thailand cautioned against incorporating cannabis into food and snacks, citing an unnecessary strain on hospital emergency services.


  1. Jane Doe July 10, 2024

    I’m glad to see people taking a stand for what they believe in. Recriminalizing cannabis is a step backward.

    • SarahP July 10, 2024

      But what about the negative health impacts and increased hospital visits? Recreational use can be dangerous.

    • Jane Doe July 10, 2024

      Every substance has risks, even legal ones like alcohol and tobacco. Education and regulation can mitigate these issues.

    • Roger July 10, 2024

      Absolutely! Restrictions can be coupled with education and proper health warnings. Prohibition isn’t the answer.

  2. Mike444 July 10, 2024

    Thailand promises just to turn around and break it. Investors are going to think twice before putting their money here.

    • BigJoe July 10, 2024

      Totally agree. Sudden policy changes are a nightmare for business stability.

    • EconomistPhil July 10, 2024

      It’s a balancing act. Public health concerns vs. business interests. Sometimes tough decisions are necessary.

    • Mike444 July 10, 2024

      This goes beyond tough decisions. It’s about trust and consistency in government policy.

  3. Ana_89 July 10, 2024

    This is a major step backwards. Cannabis has so many medicinal benefits, denying it to people is denying them relief.

  4. DoctorJohn July 10, 2024

    Cannabis for medicinal purposes should be allowed, but recreational use is a different story. Strict regulations are needed.

    • HerbalLover July 10, 2024

      Recreational use isn’t inherently bad. It’s natural and has been used for centuries in many cultures.

    • DoctorJohn July 10, 2024

      Cultural use doesn’t equate to safety. Modern strains are much more potent than historical use.

  5. LMN_75 July 10, 2024

    The health system is already overburdened. We can’t afford the extra strain caused by increased cannabis use.

    • CannabisActivist July 10, 2024

      Legalization hasn’t overburdened health systems in places like Colorado. It can be managed with proper policies.

  6. Rajesh Kumar July 10, 2024

    A hunger strike is a strong tactic. It shows the government how serious people are about this issue.

  7. NatureLover July 10, 2024

    People are resorting to hunger strikes because they are desperate. This truly shows the importance of cannabis reform.

  8. BluntTalk July 10, 2024

    Cannabis should never have been legalized for recreational use. It’s only a gateway to worse drugs.

    • Sandy K. July 10, 2024

      That ‘gateway’ theory has been debunked. Most people who use cannabis don’t go on to use harder drugs.

    • BluntTalk July 10, 2024

      Stats can be misleading. Personal anecdotes tell a different story.

    • Sandy K. July 10, 2024

      Personal anecdotes aren’t evidence. We need science and data to guide policy.

  9. JoanD July 10, 2024

    Cannabis legalization should be handled with care. A sudden ban will cause chaos in the industry and affect livelihoods.

  10. GrowerGuy July 10, 2024

    Restricting cannabis use again will just push it back into the black market. Regulation is the way to go.

    • Patel R. July 10, 2024

      Exactly. Prohibition has never worked. It only creates more illegal activity.

  11. SunnySun July 10, 2024

    There are many ways to address public health issues without criminalizing a plant that has so many benefits.

  12. N. Wilson July 10, 2024

    I don’t get it. Why legalize and then criminalize again? It’s a waste of resources.

    • LexiPoP July 10, 2024

      Politicians trying to look good. They need to make up their minds!

  13. SkepticalSam July 10, 2024

    Sounds like another flip-flop from the government, and it’s the common man who suffers.

    • JoanD July 10, 2024

      Exactly. Stability in policy is crucial for economic development.

  14. weed4Life July 10, 2024

    The longer the government takes to decide, the more people will suffer. Stop this nonsense and let people use cannabis freely.

    • SarahP July 10, 2024

      Free use isn’t the solution. You need controlled and responsible use.

    • weed4Life July 10, 2024

      True, but criminalizing it again isn’t the answer. Reasonable regulations are.

  15. EconExpert July 10, 2024

    The impact on small businesses will be devastating. Imagine all those who invested in this industry based on the initial legalization.

  16. Peter July 10, 2024

    Government policies should aim for long-term effects rather than short-term fixes. Flip-flopping helps no one.

  17. StonerDude July 10, 2024

    Just let people enjoy their lives. Why is the government so concerned with what people do in their own time?

    • ResponsibleUse July 10, 2024

      It’s a public health issue, that’s why. There need to be some rules in place.

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