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Weed demand justice: Cannabis advocates’ reclassification rally in Bangkok

Weed demand justice: Cannabis advocates’ reclassification rally in BangkokLegacy

Cannabis entrepreneurs, farmers, and activists gathered in Bangkok to protest the government’s plan to reclassify marijuana as a narcotic, only two years after its decriminalisation.

The rally, held yesterday in front of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific headquarters, saw nearly 2,000 signatures collected to support a legal petition aimed at halting the government’s move. Protesters displayed posters with messages such as stop villainising cannabis.

Jerawat Tanyaprirom, a cannabis business owner who helped gather signatures, stated that the petition would be filed with the Central Administrative Court against Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. Petitioners were required to detail any financial losses they would incur if the government’s reclassification proceeded.

“If the government backed down, we wouldn’t need to file this petition. But we want to have this as ammunition.”

Prime Minister Srettha’s recent decision to reverse decriminalisation has plunged Thailand’s cannabis industry into uncertainty. Bangkok-born Srettha announced that cannabis would be reclassified as a category 5 narcotic, making it illegal to produce, sell, import, export, or possess the plant and its products. This comes after Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalise cannabis in 2022.

Currently, cannabis is designated as a controlled herb, and its recreational use is not entirely prohibited. This status has allowed thousands of dispensaries to thrive since 2022, selling cannabis buds, oil extracts, weed-infused candies, and baked goods. Under the existing drug law, these products must contain no more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound responsible for the high sensation.

Government regulation

Cannabis advocacy groups are calling for government regulation of the industry through legislation rather than a blanket re-criminalisation. Writing Thailand’s Cannabis Future, an advocacy group, released a statement urging the government to avoid using the narcotics law, as it would restrict cannabis cultivation and trade to a select few.

“If we use the narcotics law, we will be putting cannabis back in jail and allowing it to be grown by only some groups of people.”

They also announced plans for another rally on June 9, which marks the second anniversary of decriminalisation.

All-Time High Cannabis Dispensary owner Naren Tolani believes reclassifying Cannabis as a narcotic is a major step backwards in terms of policy.

“This industry has developed into a massive contributor to the Thai economy, and forcing the market back underground will have an immensely detrimental effect on people’s livelihood, and health, and of course will cause a major strain on the criminal justice system.”

Public Health Minister Somsak Thepsutin recently announced that new legislation would require permits for growing and using cannabis for medical purposes and research, while recreational use would be banned. He assured that the permit system would not be burdensome for those willing to comply with the law.

More than 1 million households have registered with authorities to cultivate cannabis, in addition to commercial growers aiming to capitalise on the growing demand, reported Bangkok Post.

Despite the proposed reclassification, cannabis for medical and health purposes will still be permitted, according to the prime minister.

The story Weed demand justice: Cannabis advocates’ reclassification rally in Bangkok as seen on Thaiger News.

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