Opinion: Marijuana once again held hostage by electoral and legislative agenda

The so-called latest push to decriminalise marijuana was just another baby step on the seemingly endless road towards legalization. Increasingly it looks like marijuana has been held hostage by electoral and legislative agenda.

What the health ministry was proposing is to decriminalise extracts, such as oil, from a marijuana plant that contain less than 0.2 per cent of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical that causes intoxication.

The Narcotics Control Board (NCB) will decide on January 25 whether they will agree with the ministry’s proposal. If all passed then it would go back to Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to sign and announce it.

This will benefit people who research and uses medical marijuana and people who produce and sell beauty or other products made from extracts of marijuana.

Apart from that, nothing much will change. You still cannot grow it without a license. The flower, where there is the most concentration of THC, is still illegal.

Again, only extracts, from homegrown plants, with less than 0.2 per cent of THC will be legalised, if the NCB agreed.

It is still very difficult to get your hand on a license to grow or open marijuana-related businesses, especially for entrepreneurs with small funding.

The dream that every Thai will be able to legally grow six marijuana plants at home that was being sold by Anutin is still far away.

The progressive move of turning marijuana into a cash crop will not be realised if the entire plant is still considered as a narcotic and the legalization of recreational cannabis is not part of Anutin’s plan.

But still, the push to promote medical marijuana is still going strong in Thailand. And even though it is hard to get a license, people with resources can already start to make businesses out of the parts that are now legal to sell.

Anutin wants to tell the electorate that under him, Thailand became the first in Southeast Asian country to legalize medical marijuana and its use in food and cosmetics for the upcoming election.

He will promise that if people vote for him and his party, they will come back to finish what they have started.

We will have to wait and see whether people will fall for it again.

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