Doctors should study benefits, not hype fears of legal weed: Thai advocates

Pot smokers and cannabis advocates on April 20, 2022, hit Khaosan Road to celebrate Weed Day. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
Pot smokers and cannabis advocates on April 20, 2022, hit Khaosan Road to celebrate Weed Day. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

Cannabis advocates said today that medical professionals concerned about the drug’s use should learn more before condemning its use.

Responding to a petition signed Sunday by more than 1,000 doctors calling for stricter rules to rein in recreational use of weed, two campaigners said that while more regulations are needed, the medical community should take into consideration the drug’s proven benefits.

“I think they should rethink the ethics surrounding cannabis use and think about what is best for their patients,” Soranut “Beer” Masayavanich, the owner of the Sukumweed dispensary, told Coconuts. “They should worry more about people who are taking prescribed antidepressants, since they have side effects of addiction and suicidal tendencies.”

Soranut said he was not shocked to see 1,000 signatures, all collected from medical professionals and alums at Mahidol University’s Ramathibodi Hospital, on the petition calling for tough new rules. 

“If you give us one day, we could get about 100,000 signatures to legalize weed,” he said. “I dare Ramathibodi Hospital to show the data on how many of their patients survive chemotherapy treatment.”

Another dispensary owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to his links to the university hospital, said he understands the worries cannabis may bring but agreed the doctors have failed to consider its positives.

“I think the doctors can have their say on this topic, and I partly agree that there should be more regulation in how people should consume cannabis the right way,” he said. “I think new laws are coming very soon.”

Though a bill was introduced in parliament well before weed was fully decriminalized June 9, it was not taken up, creating a situation under which no laws regulated the drug, giving Thailand the world’s most liberal cannabis policy – because there was none.

That bill passed its first reading last month and is now being worked on before it returns to the floor. On Monday, the head of the committee amending the cannabis bill, Supachai Jaisamut, said a committee review concluded there weren’t any “significant impacts” owing to use by youth.

Responding to the petition, he said the health ministry would formally propose measures to better regulate its use by the end of the month.

Although their dispensaries continue to sell cannabis freely, they both noted that sellers respect existing regulations, such as an age limit imposed by emergency decree and a prohibition on the sale of THC-infused edibles.

“As shops, we need to consider the ethics when they’re selling edibles since that causes problems,” Soranut said. “Even though we want freedom, there are people taking edibles and ending up in hospitals without fully understanding what they’re taking.”

On Sunday, approximately 851 medical staff and alumni from the Faculty of Medicine at Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University filed a petition blaming the suddenly liberal cannabis policies for encouraging recreational use rather than medicinal and harming youth.

The petition urged officials to close the current legal vacuum and involve more stakeholders in proposing policy solutions.

Related
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Blunt truth: Media keep getting it wrong on Thai cannabis legalization
Weed ended his acting career. Today brought vindication.
Thailand lights up as marijuana goes legal today (Photos)

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