Move Forward Party (MFP) deputy leader Ms. Sirikanya Tansakun affirmed Thursday, May 25th, that registered marijuana growers and business operators would be legally shielded even when the new government re-lists marijuana as a narcotic.
At yesterday’s press conference, Ms. Sirikanya, a prospective commerce minister for the MFP, said the MFP’s goal of re-designating cannabis on the narcotics list is to allow police and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board to work fully to control the misuse of cannabis, a work that has been left undone by the caretaker government.
The goal would not be to completely ban or shut down all cannabis businesses and start arresting and charging users, according to Ms. Sirikanya.
After using a ministerial regulation of the Ministry of Public Health to re-list the plant, the new government will then immediately pass new laws to control the use, production, growing, and import and export of marijuana, while simultaneously protecting currently licensed registered marijuana growers and business operators like dispensaries legally.
Ms. Sirikanya said: “I insist cannabis business operators and marijuana growers will also be protected and allowed to go about their business as usual as long as they have registered and have permission to do so. A proper announcement will be issued to ensure this and law enforcement will be on the same page.”
Her affirmation followed growing concerns among many groups of cannabis-related business operators and growers, after the coalition partners led by the MFP said in the memorandum of understanding that they would re-list cannabis as a narcotic.
A marijuana retailer in Nonthaburi province told Thai media that it would be “challenging” for marijuana to become completely illegal again because a large group of the Thai population now uses marijuana for medicinal and admittedly recreational purposes and millions of Thais are now growing plants at home.
If marijuana became a controlled substance again, it would drastically affect those who rely on it for medical conditions, such as children with epilepsy who require CBD oil, the business owner said. In addition, attempting to fine or arrest millions of Thais with a small amount of marijuana could be a logistical nightmare.
There was also significant concern that some corrupt police could target foreign users and tourists of marijuana for extortion with exorbitant fees and threats of jail, like vaping, if relisted as a narcotic.
However, Ms. Sirikanya ensured that business operators and marijuana growers who have registered properly with the government that they should not be worried.
She avoided directly tackling the issue of recreational cannabis and did not immediately address concerns that if the plant was made a narcotic would that mean customers or users could be targeted. However, she did state the purpose of making it a narcotic was to provide temporary legal framework for regulation and mainly to stop unlicensed street sellers and smuggling/illegal importing, not to crack down on users or shut down businesses.
With over 12,000 licensed cannabis businesses, millions of growers and registrations, and a tourist favorite, the reassurances will be needed. Some businesses remain wary, afraid that the moment the plant is relisted as a narcotic a crack down could still take place, pointing out it is legally possible.
Move Forward Party’s plan to allow current businesses that are licensed to remain open hasn’t pleased everyone, like prominent anti-cannabis activist and former politician Chuwit. He continues to call, as we covered here, for all dispensaries to shut down in 100 days of the formation of the new government and a complete ban on any recreational usage.
This seems unlikely, however, as MFP continues to reassure nervous investors, users, farmers, and business owners.