Thai parliament deletes Section 3 of cannabis bill, leaving herb in legal limbo


BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): Parliament on Wednesday (Dec 21) voted to remove Section 3 from the draft cannabis/hemp regulation bill, leaving the legal status of the herb in limbo.

Section 3 specified that cannabis and hemp are not considered narcotics under the Narcotic Drugs Act.

The deletion of Section 3 sparked speculation that cannabis has effectively been relisted as a narcotic. However, the House committee scrutinising the draft bill previously said that removal of Section 3 would not override an edict issued in June by the Public Health Ministry that legalised the herb by delisting it as a Category 5 drug.

Of the 233 MPs attending Wednesday’s meeting, 199 voted for removal of Section 3, none voted against, and there were 31 abstentions and three no-votes.

The meeting then considered Section 4, which covers definition of terms related to cannabis and hemp. Move Forward MP Dr Wayo Assawarungruang proposed limits on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis to prevent the development of new strains that contain higher THC levels. THC is the psychoactive substance responsible for the “high” from consuming cannabis.

Meanwhile, Move Forward and Democrat MPs disagreed with appointing the Food and Drug Administration secretary-general as a registrar for cannabis and hemp cultivation, saying this would lead to procedures that would be too complicated for small-scale growers. They proposed that registration of growers should instead be the responsibility of provincial governors or local administrators.

Democrat MP Satit Wongnongtoei complained that the bill’s regulation of household use of marijuana without medical reasons is too ambiguous and created a loophole for recreational use.

Deliberation of the draft bill, which governs cultivation, sale, and consumption, is proceeding slowly as MPs are keen to have their say on each topic.

Delays to the bill, which was sent back for review in September, are causing confusion over what aspects of the herb will be legal.

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