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Cannabis bill riles coalition

BANGKOK: Relations among the government’s coalition partners have become strained due to a cannabis and hemp bill, with the Bhumjaithai Party slamming its withdrawal from parliament as being politically motivated.

By Bangkok Post

Friday 16 September 2022, 02:30PM

An official of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization shows a bottle of CBD oil during a press tour on the merits of cannabis at its plant in Pathum Thani province last month. Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb

An official of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization shows a bottle of CBD oil during a press tour on the merits of cannabis at its plant in Pathum Thani province last month. Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb

On Wednesday (Sept 14), the much-touted bill was suspended pending revision of its contents which lawmakers viewed as being overly “loose” and potentially exposing young people to danger, reports the Bangkok Post.

The House of Representatives voted 198 to 136 with 12 abstentions to withdraw the bill for improvements despite objections from Bhumjaithai, which sponsored the legislation. The bill authorises the use of cannabis and hemp for medicinal and research purposes.

Critics were concerned its contents failed to guarantee full protection for young people and sanctioned the recreational use of the drug.

Public Health Minister and Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday this was not unexpected. “The bill will give one party [Bhumjaithai] an advantage over several other parties so I could see this coming a mile away,” he said.

He insisted the contents of the bill include feedback from the public and said it was scrutinised by a House committee made up of both the government and opposition blocs, as well as medical experts.

Asked if the withdrawal of the bill would strain relations among coalition parties, Anutin said: “If that is to happen, so be it. But we are confident people will benefit from the bill.

“From now on, if any issues related to cannabis arise, go for parties that are trying to delay it - Pheu Thai, the Democrats and Palang Pracharath,” said Anutin, who is also a deputy prime minister.

Asked whether the bill will likely be passed before the current parliament’s tenure ends next March, he said: “Ask those who have delayed it… It is obvious how the political game is playing out.”

Anutin tried to quell fears of a lack of adequate control of cannabis use following the bill’s suspension, saying the public health ministerial regulations are already in place to control its use.

He said if the bill cannot become law before the parliament’s tenure ends, Bhumjaithai will continue to push for its passage in the next election.

Internal - Phuket News TV

Before the previous general election, Bhumjaithai promised to decriminalise cannabis for medicinal and economic reasons.

Anutin also delivered a speech at an annual academic conference of the Public Health Ministry in Songkhla province yesterday.

“An unseemly incident occurred in the House. The cannabis and hemp bill, which had already been improved by a House committee, was withdrawn and those who supported the removal claimed they wanted it to be more carefully considered,” he said.

“I wonder why the revised bill was no better than the original. It is clear the issue has been politicised.

“With many people starting to benefit from the cannabis policy and the election approaching, it is understandable that opponent groups are acting with a political purpose,” Anutin said.

Responding to criticism from Bhumjaithai, Democrat Party MP for Trang Satit Wongnongtaey insisted the Democrat Party did not oppose the bill.

“The Democrats did not strike a deal with any parties before the vote... Even though the bill was withdrawn, it can be resubmitted to parliament in November. The benefits to the public and young people must be taken into account,” he said.

Wanwichit Boonprong, a political scientist at Rangsit University, said cracks are appearing in the coalition as the stakes are high for Bhumjaithai and the Democrats in the next election, particularly in the South.

Bhumjaithai has thrown down the gauntlet to the Democrats as Anutin said he has his sights set on winning a landslide in the South, the Democrat’s traditional stronghold, Mr Wanwichit said.

Stithorn Thananithichot, director of the Office of Innovation for Democracy at King Prajadhipok’s Institute, said if the bill is enacted, Bhumjaithai will challenge government and opposition parties in the next poll.

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Kurt | 17 September 2022 - 10:04:16

All this has nothing to do with cannabis. It is all just a excuse for powerplay games. Cannabis is here, and will remain/florish here (literally) for ever. One can hear it growing all over Thailand now.  :-)  Think about the alcohol ban in USA in the past. It didn't work, just made mafia and corrupt politici rich that time. Same will happen here as corruption here doesn''t need teachin...

JohnC | 17 September 2022 - 09:18:52

If any bill in this country need revision of it's contents it should be the alcohol bill. Abuse of alcohol by  youths in particular and the general population is a far more damaging problem than anything to do with cannabis. Kratom is still abused by young people but was made legal too. You will never stop teenagers experimenting. Part of growing up.

Fascinated | 16 September 2022 - 19:21:59

If this is about young people and the future why not ban alcohol, tobacco and caffeine- all of which are far more subject to abuse.

Prab | 16 September 2022 - 17:35:22

right now you need a licence to sell a beer but anyone can sell ganja.. this is nonsense..i'm up for legalizing but it as to make sense and underage kids should not be able to buy anywhere online they want.. somehow they need to regulate it and asap...or else it will be a real carnage


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