Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew announced that the Thai government is taking additional time to gather further input on a proposed bill set to restrict the use of cannabis to medical purposes only, signifying a pause in the country’s journey towards the further regulation of the substance. This decision came to light following a cabinet meeting this week.

The Ministry’s choice to delay the bill submission indicates a conscious effort to consider diverse perspectives on the matter. Cholnan highlighted the necessity for more comprehensive stakeholder engagement before proceeding with the legislative process.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin had campaigned on a commitment to confining the use of cannabis to medicinal and health avenues, citing addiction worries. It is worth noting, however, that the landmark laws enacted by the previous government in mid-2022 catapulted Thailand to the forefront of cannabis reform in Asia, enabling an expansive retail market for cannabis products to emerge.

This thriving new industry created a significant paradigm shift, driving innovation and economic activity in related sectors. Critics of the new draft bill point out that responsible adult use of cannabis in a recreational context should not be conflated with unchecked substance abuse.

Last week, Minister Cholnan shared that while the revised bill emphasizes the importance of medical cannabis, it explicitly prohibits recreational usage. Advocates for cannabis legalisation argue that such restrictions overlook the potential benefits of regulated recreational use, which can be observed in several jurisdictions where legalisation has led to positive economic and social outcomes.

As the debate continues, stakeholders are urging the government to consider a balanced approach that acknowledges the complexity of cannabis usage while leveraging its potential advantages when effectively controlled. The delay in the bill’s approval reflects the government’s intention to align with public interest and to craft policies founded on an inclusive, informed foundation.

As a disclaimer, the opinions expressed in this article don’t reflect those of High Thailand.

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