Thai legislature legalisation cannabis and releases 2,958 prisoners
The decriminalisation of marijuana in Thailand, which removed cannabis and marijuana from the list of narcotic substances, has provoked both positive and negative reactions. What opinions are emerging ?
Thanks to new legislation
Thanks to new legislation, the Thai government has allowed citizens to grow cannabis plants at home for medical purposes. However, recreational smoking of marijuana remains illegal and is punishable by a fine of up to 26 000 baht (USD 780) and up to three months in prison. Of course, commercial cultivation without a licence is also not allowed. Despite this, Thailand is an extremely progressive country, as access to narcotics is very strict throughout Asia.
Yet Thailand is considered the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise cannabis use. However, critics have expressed concern about the shortcomings of the marijuana legislation, which they say could lead to an increase in the number of addicts.
In addition, last week Thailand began releasing 2,958 prisoners who had been convicted of maryuhan-related offences. “The Ministry of Corrections has prepared documents in advance to make it easier for the courts to issue release orders,” said Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin.
The Thais had mixed feelings about the release of the prisoners. Some said it was okay because cannabis had been decriminalised. Others, however, feared that the prisoners might commit new crimes.
Steps to legalisation
Thailand took the first step towards legalising marijuana in 2019 when the government allowed its use for medical purposes. Last year, it approved cannabis as an ingredient in food and beverages. This has allowed food manufacturers and restaurants to add cannabis to everything from traditional Thai dishes to bread, biscuits and pizza.
While deregulation will boost the economy with new products and services, some people are concerned about its dark side. Decriminalisation came into force before the adoption of the new Cannabis Act, which is intended to regulate marijuana and prevent its use as a narcotic.
Data from the Centre for the Study of Addiction shows that the number of people aged 18 or 19 who smoke marijuana has been rising significantly since 2019, when the government began pushing for the legalisation of cannabis.
The authorities have also issued conflicting statements on how they will apply the law, causing confusion and potentially creating room for violations.
Liberalisation is also opposed by some doctors and health professionals who fear that full legalisation of cannabis would allow more people to become addicted to it, leading to further problems. It should be added, however, that these fears have not yet been realised in any ‘legalised’ country.
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Published by Jan Horák23/08/2022