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Thailand Reclassifies Cannabis and Hemp as Narcotics

A pivotal decision was reached as the Ministry of Public Health’s committee voted to reclassify cannabis and hemp as narcotics, a change set to take effect on January 1, 2025. The decision, chaired by Permanent Secretary for Public Health Dr. Surachoke Tangwiwat, stemmed from a unanimous agreement that cannabis should be reserved exclusively for medical purposes, thereby banning its recreational use.

In a detailed meeting, committee members extensively debated the implications of reclassification. The majority eventually supported the move. The proposal now awaits review by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board and, if endorsed, will be forwarded to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA will then adjust existing cannabis-related legislation and establish clear usage guidelines.

Under the new classification, cannabis buds and any substance containing more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) will be listed as narcotics. However, branches, roots, and seeds will be exempt from this classification, reflecting the nuanced approach to cannabis regulation.

Despite the decision, the reclassification has sparked criticism from several committee members and numerous civic groups. Opponents argue that the reclassification could adversely affect individuals who benefit from cannabis for health reasons. They emphasize the importance of considering the needs of patients who rely on cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

Dr. Surachoke acknowledged the concerns, stating that the reclassification aims to strike a balance between preventing recreational misuse and ensuring medical access. He assured that further consultations with stakeholders would continue to refine the implementation process.

The meeting also resolved to appoint key figures for the ongoing review process. The decision reflects a broader trend in the region to tighten cannabis regulations amidst growing debates on its medical and recreational use.

As Thailand prepares for this significant policy shift, the Ministry of Public Health is committed to ensuring that the new regulations are communicated effectively to the public. The ministry aims to maintain a framework that supports medical usage while curbing potential misuse.

The reclassification marks a critical juncture in Thailand’s approach to cannabis regulation, with the potential to influence future policies across Southeast Asia.

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