Monday, May 23, 2022

Thailand is the first country in Asia to take steps to decriminalize marijuana

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand on Tuesday became the first country in Asia to approve the de facto decriminalization of marijuana, although authorities have left a gray area around its recreational use.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that the Drug Control Board has approved the removal of cannabis from the ministry’s list of controlled drugs.

The delisting by the ministry’s Food and Drug Administration now must be formally signed by the Minister of Health and takes effect 120 days after it is published in the government gazette. This follows the deletion of cannabis – a plant species that includes both marijuana and hemp – last month from the list of illegal drugs under Thailand’s Narcotics Law.

The Department of Health measure keeps parts of the cannabis plant on its list of controlled drugs that contain more than 0.2% by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a psychoactive ingredient that makes users high.

Thailand in 2020 became the first Asian country to decriminalize the production and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Health Minister Anutin was the driving force behind the decriminalization of marijuana. He is the leader of the Thai Bhumjai Party, a major partner in the country’s coalition government, and campaigned in the 2019 general election to legalize marijuana production to help farmers. The latter measure is also seen as helping to promote cannabis products as a major industry in Thailand.

Anutin said last week that the FDA delisting “will respond to the government’s urgent policy to develop marijuana and hemp for medical and medical purposes, develop technology, and generate income for the public.”

His party announced it would introduce a draft Cannabis Law to Parliament on Wednesday to clarify marijuana’s legal status.

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