Thai Examiner: Anutin turns up the heat on PM over cannabis issue as critical drug control panel meeting looms to decide

Deputy PM Anutin clashes with PM over Cannabis recriminalization. As public support surges, Anutin vows to vote against rescheduling cannabis as a controlled drug at the critical Narcotics Control Board meeting. Will the embattled PM Srettha hold firm?

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul turned up the heat on the Prime Minister over the cannabis issue on Tuesday. After Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, the Minister of the Interior stridently voiced his opposition to the process currently underway to recriminalise both cannabis and hemp. Certainly, he promised to vote against it at a crucial meeting due shortly of the Narcotics Control Board (NCB). That meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. It comes with a rising number of controversies and pressure points facing the embattled Prime Minister. Nonetheless, public support for the government’s proposed recriminalisation of the drug is strong, with a NIDA survey in May showing 75% behind it.

Presently, the recreational use of cannabis in Thailand is widespread, with reportedly 7,700 outlets. This came after the decriminalisation of the drug by Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul (right) in June 2022. Now with a new government on track to reverse the regulation, the present Minister of the Interior, Mr Anutin, has waited until now to make clear his firm opposition. Previously, he had suggested further consultations while emphasising government unity. (Source: Japan Times and Narcotics Suppression Bureau.)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul on Tuesday sounded a more strident note in relation to the government’s move to recriminalise cannabis or marijuana as a prohibited narcotic.

On Friday, the Narcotics Suppression Board (NSB), in a major move, approved such a course. In short, this would see the drug again placed on the scheduled list of narcotics.

Both cannabis and hemp are to be rescheduled as Category 5 prohibited drugs.

Government set to reverse controversial Cannabis deregulation from 2022. Plans for immediate enforcement of strict laws against cannabis and hemp

In turn, this will mean immediate police enforcement when it comes into effect.

Significantly, this is a reversal of Mr Anutin’s controversial deregulation which came into effect in June 2022.

The decision by the Narcotics Suppression Board (NSB) last Friday came at the end of a Ministry of Public Health consultative process.

The details were announced by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Surachoke Tangwiwat.

Previously, the Ministry of Public Health had heard from a broad section of the medical profession in Thailand on the subject. In addition, it heard of valid clinical research showing that cannabis leads to an increased risk of psychosis.

At the same time, a meeting at the ministry in Nonthaburi on June 1st heard Associate Professor Prakan Thomyangkun of the Psychiatric Association of Thailand give damning evidence. This was related to increased admissions and psychiatric case requirements linked with the decriminalisation of the drug.

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