Thai Deputy Government Spokesman Warns Against Reclassifying Cannabis as Narcotic, Cites Public Harm

National —

On June 13th, 2024, Deputy Government Spokesman Karom Phonphonklang publicly warned Thai Minister of Public Health Somsak Thepsuthin regarding his insistence to reclassify cannabis as a type 5 narcotic, which would essentially recriminalize it in Thailand.

This decision should not be made to appease any specific group but should consider the broader public who lack bargaining power. Failure to do so could lead to widespread harm and distress, remarked Karom.
He pointed out that while cannabis was once a type 5 narcotic, systematic studies have shown its benefits in medical use and economic advantages. Since its removal from the narcotics list, many small cannabis-related businesses have emerged for medicinal purposes and as a food and drink ingredient.
Karom warned that reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic would result in the arrest and prosecution of those in possession of it, causing financial and legal burdens. He urged the current Public Health Minister, who previously served as the Justice Minister, to provide statistics on how many people were prosecuted for cannabis possession before its decriminalization and how overall case statistics have dropped since.
Additionally, the Thai government should focus on passing cannabis legislation to regulate its use, considering the economic, legal, and medical contexts. Karom emphasized that reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic is inappropriate and found it peculiar that Somsak is pushing to reclassify cannabis as a narcotic without considering these factors.
On the same day, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pattapong Kasetsomboon, the family medicine doctor at Khon Kaen University, presented statistics on Thai health trends from 2021 to 2023. Data from the Ministry of Public Health showed a decrease of 26.7 million healthcare visits, saving at least 19 billion baht.
When calculating the annual average number of outpatient treatments for 2021-2022 and subtracting the number for 2023, there was a decrease of 26,672,454 visits and 13,334,354 patients. Inpatient treatments decreased by 36,150 cases and 8,091,897 bed days. The total savings amounted to 19,384,119,956 baht.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pattapong noted that these cost-saving figures are based on community hospital data, and actual savings could be higher if all hospital levels were considered.
The decrease in healthcare visits during the past three years coincides with the period when cannabis was decriminalized for home cultivation and self-use, suggesting this policy might potentially have contributed to the reduced number of patients.

Further studies are recommended to explore this potential correlation, remarked Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pattapong.

Read our latest article about the majority of public feedback on the draft law opposing the proposal to make cannabis illegal again in Thailand, according to the Public Health Minister.

This article originally appeared on our sister website The Pattaya News.

Kittisak Phalaharn
Kittisak has a passion for outgoings no matter how tough it will be, he will travel with an adventurous style. As for his interests in fantasy, detective genres in novels and sports science books are parts of his soul. He works for Pattaya News as the latest writer.