One year ago today, the Earth shifted slightly on its axis as the unthinkable became reality and Thailand, with little fanfare, fully decriminalized cannabis.
Most didn’t see it coming. Our many stories heralding the change five months in advance were met with skepticism, even from other news agencies who didn’t bother reading the details. (And when they caught on, they still got it horribly wrong.)
Smokers new and old lit up in celebration, fortunes were made virtually overnight, and a new industry was born as dispensaries mushroomed across the kingdom. But the past year has remained a time of uncertainty as the full legal question has remained unresolved. With no regulations on the book, a drumbeat has grown from those who would turn back the clock and make weed illegal again, fed by a steady stream of Reefer Madness-style hysteria and misinformation.
Yet the prevailing wisdom has been, as Arun Avery of Highland emphasized to us recently, that things had reached a point of no return, and too much money was on the table to flip it over.
Even those issuing the loudest calls for a return to the just-say-no past “have their pockets or their relatives’ pockets too deep … to pull the plug,” he said.
But putting a banna on the canna did not seem on voters’ minds last month when they went to the polls, and the party that banked its future on legal weed once again appears to hold the keys to forming the next government.
Despite that, anxiety remains. This morning, members of the group “Writing Thailand’s Cannabis Future” led by Prasitchai Nu-nuan converged outside the Prime Minister’s Office to urge the government to stay the course rather than reverse it.
“As for June 9, we consider it an important day in the history of Thai marijuana,” Prasitchai said. “It’s the day when the government opened up for the public use of marijuana. Our group agrees that June 9th should be declared Thai Marijuana Day.”
The group repeated calls for much-needed regulation as even marijuana proponents agree things are a little too wild and out of control, with no effort made to rein in illegal imports or introduce fair rules for everything from production to distribution and consumption.
Key to their petition was to insist marijuana be regulated by statute and not narcotics law The group said it would launch a tour Friday across the realm to spread education and awareness on the proper training and use of cannabis for social and medical benefit
It is opposed to the policy of relisting cannabis as a controlled substance that was promoted by many political parties in the run-up to the general election.
The issue is far from settled. Move Forward, the party which won the most votes and seats, has signaled it wants weed to be regulated for medical use only. Pheu Thai, which placed second, has stuck to its tough-on-drugs legacy and called for full recriminalization. That leaves Bhumjaithai, the only party to support the weed free-for-all status quo. It placed third overall but has ruled out joining a Move Forward-Pheu Thai coalition.
Prasitchai said the issue should be further studied before any knee-jerk reaction is taken.