Bhumjai Thai and Democrat parties lock horns on ganja liberalization ahead of expected polls

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Two of the key coalition partners in the incumbent government have locked horns on the issue of the liberalization of marijuana with Bhumjai Thai Party saying that it will not be considerate of its other coalition partner – Democrat party, in the upcoming general election.

Public Health Minister and leader of the Bhumjai Thai Party Anutin Charnvirakul said that his party will no longer provide any political etiquette for the Democrat Party during the next general election as the rift between the 2 coalition parties continues over the cannabis and hemp bill.

“It is good that it ended up this way where coalition parties are not supporting each other so that when the election comes, there is no more need to be considerate of each other,” he told reporters.

Elections are expected no later than early next year, when the term of the current government ends on March 23, 2023.

The rift between the 2 coalition parties came after the Democrat Party voted down Bhumjai Thai Party’s cannabis and hemp bill on Thursday.

Parliament voted 198 to 136 to withdraw the bill for improvements. The bill is supposed to provide regulations for the use and trade of cannabis and hemp.

Both plants were already lifted from the narcotic list since February 2022 where possession is no longer illegal.

However, marijuana is still not allowed to be smoked in public but the plant and its flowers, which contains THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical that makes you high, were already being sold in some stores.

The Democrat said they want the bill to be withdrawn because it was inadequate when comes to providing protection for the youth and sanctioning recreational use of the plants.

Anutin said the Democrat is only voting down the bill because the next general election is coming up and the Democrat wanted to use their objection to marijuana as one of their selling points.

He insisted that the Bhumjai Thai Party only support the medical use of marijuana.

“These people who spoke in parliament do not know what they were talking about and they only see their political benefits over the benefits for the people where even reporters can see that it is near election so they are using this issue to try and gain more votes,” he said.

The Democrat already said they want to recriminalize marijuana because they are against the recreational use of marijuana.

Anutin said if marijuana is recriminalized then people who have already grown it and doctors who already subscribed it to their patients will become criminals and the value of the marijuana oil market which is mainly being used for medical purposes will drop.

“Many of the people who came out against marijuana were sitting on boards of alcohol companies but how come they do not see anything wrong with alcohol when it is more dangerous than marijuana?” he asked.

Commerce Minister and leader of the Democrat Party Jurin Laksanawisit denied on Friday that his party is going against the marijuana and hemp bill because of political reasons.

“We are worried for the future of our children,” he said.

“Our party supports the medical use of marijuana but we do not agree with the complete freedom for marijuana and this bill was leading towards it,” he said.

When asked about the Bhumjai Thai Party and the Democrat Party’s contest for MP seats in the South where the Democrat stronghold is, Jurin said the competition has yet to begin and when the time comes, it will not only be a competition between the 2 parties as there will be other parties to compete with as well.

Chief opposition whip and deputy leader of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party said his party agreed with the Democrat party that the bill should be revised because they do not support any kind of recreational use of marijuana.

He said Pheu Thai wants the bill to be stricter when comes to banning the recreational use of marijuana.

“The Bhumjai Thai Party should open up their heart to listen to the people, civil groups and other political parties that are against it but they are not listening to anyone,” he said.


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