As we near the inevitable election cannabis has become a political football. Low hanging fruit that some parties and people are demonizing with the hope that such tactics will translate into votes come election day. The arguments are non-sensical and silly, filled with “data free talking points” as so well described by Carl Linn in his excellent article The True Impact of Missing Regulations on Legal Thai Weed.
The most common of the “data free talking points” are related to protection of children. National broadcasters and daily newspapers have published wild tales of students and youths using cannabis sourced solely on unverified Facebook postings. Other prominent members of society and the political world have spoken openly about the easy access to cannabis and children smoking all around without pointing to specific casesand instances. Opposition law makers have even used protection of Thailand’s youth to justify their failure to show up to vote on the doomed Cannabis Bill. To be clear this is not justification for their vote, but justification for failing to show up and vote—in effect leaving the status quo in place. Lastly, political parties arenow running anti-cannabis platforms, with different levels of desperation, citing the need to protect children without showing evidence of any existing harm.
For the sake of clarity, HighThailand’s position is not that cannabis does not pose a harm to youth. Peer reviewed data available freely in JAMA and other reputable medical journals provide that cannabis may adversely affect the brain during development (similar studies provide that the fully developed brain may be protected by cannabis use). To this end we fully support age restrictions on access to cannabis. But we also note that those restrictions are already in place. The law of the kingdom provides that cannabis may not be purchased by anyone under 20. Thus, anyone selling cannabis to individuals under 20 is breaking the law. A successful illegal sale is a failure of enforcement not a failure of law.
What further restrictions or enforcements would these champions of youth like to see? What are the actual data relating to underage cannabis use? Is cannabis use amongst the youth on the rise compared to pre-legalization? Is youth use of cannabis more than just experimentation? These are all questions that must be answered by those attacking cannabis in the name of Thailand’s children—and by society as a whole so that we can address those problems illuminated by the data.
If a problem exists—we would like to be part of the solution for fixing it. But we do not want to support a cadre of Don Quixotes fighting imaginary windmills throughout the kingdom. Society cannot act as an aggregate Sancho Panza, humoring the silliness of “good people”, “elders” and folks from the right families who see attacking cannabis as their ticket to the big show. We needreal data, serious professionals and accountable people who can work within reality.
I am a father—many in our Thai cannabis community are parents—we all share the ultimate goal of protecting our children. Nothing is more important. Nothing. For the last couple months, and in particular the last couple weeks I have been keeping my child indoors as most of Thailand and our neighbors burn sugarcane and forests causing increasingly harmful pollutants, taking a toll on all of us. This pollution is not a fantasy but a horrible and destructive reality. A tangible reality which we all can see, smell, and taste every day. A tangible reality which is supported by data which tells the tale of hundreds of thousands of adversely affected lives, billions of Baht of destruction to our economy, and the untold damage to our children and future generations. Yet—this very present danger—this imminent catastrophe—this crime of our generation and generations before us, does not garner the same attention or outrage from those who want to be our leaders. Why is that? I will let our readers consider the reasons. But I will say this, shame on those who cynically use children for their own political means. If you truly want to protect Thailand’s youth—stand up against pollution and its sources, strengthen education, and engage in dialogue with facts, reason, and logic. We will support every reasonable endeavor to keep cannabis out of the hands of Thailand’s youth—but we will not support those individuals who play with our children for their own political gain.