Reclassification of cannabis, no lese majeste reform in Move Foward coalition’s MOU

Yesterday, Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of the Move Forward Party, along with leaders from seven other political parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at Bangkok’s Conrad Hotel to form a coalition government.

The signing, which took place on the 9th anniversary of the 2014 military coup, was framed as a significant milestone reflecting the success of Thai society in transitioning back to a democratic system through peaceful parliamentary processes.

Move Forward, the unofficial winner of the May 14 election, brought together the coalition in order to reach the minimum threshold of 376 votes required to form a government and elect a prime minister. Although the MOU gets them closer to meeting that threshold, it is clear that some compromises to their agenda have been made in order to secure the coalition and lobby for the additional votes still needed from the 250 senators installed by the military. 

That could be seen in the conspicuous absence of any points regarding the controversial lese majeste law in the MOU. Although Move Forward made reforming the monarchy a central part of their platform during their campaign, the issue has proven to be highly divisive among coalition partners and it is not among the points agreed upon in the MOU. 

Asked about it after the signing, Pita promised that Move Forward Party intended to submit a proposal to amend the lese majeste law to Parliament itself in the future.

The MOU does contain a point concerning the coalition’s stance on marijuana, which has been of much concern for ganja cultivators and enthusiasts.

According to the agreement, the coalition has agreed to reclassify cannabis as a controlled substance by enforcing regulation laws and supporting its beneficial uses. 

However, in answer to a question after the signing, Pita reassured weed entrepreneuers that they need not worry – as long they have the proper paperwork and licenses to operate.

“Shop owners who followed the rules and protocols and did everything correctly would not have to worry about any impact. However, those involved in illegal imports, who open shops without any permits will face the full weight of the law so that we can control and slowly adjust Thai society, especially school children, to the exposure to cannabis,” he said.

Here is a complete list of all the common agenda items agreed upon by parties to the MOU:

  1. Restoring democracy, including expediting the drafting of a new constitution by the people’s direct election of constituent assembly members.
  2. Affirming and enacting marriage equality laws to guarantee the rights of same-sex couples, without imposing on individuals’ religious beliefs.
  3. Pushing for reforms in the administrative, police, military, and justice systems to align with democratic principles, emphasizing transparency, modernization, efficiency, and maximizing public benefits.
  4. Transforming the mandatory conscription system into a voluntary recruitment system, while maintaining the draft during times of war.
  5. Collaborating to establish sustainable peace in the southern border provinces, considering human rights principles, coexistence in multicultural societies, and the participation of all sectors, including reviewing the missions of organizations and law enforcement related to security.
  6. Advocating for the decentralization of power in terms of both responsibilities and budgets to enable local areas to respond appropriately to the needs of their communities, ensuring efficiency and preventing corruption.
  7. Addressing corruption problems through the establishment of a transparent and accountable government system, promoting disclosure of state information in all agencies.
  8. Collaborating to revive the economy by increasing people’s income, reducing inequality, and creating a fair economic system with high growth potential, supporting industries and Thai products to compete in the global market.
  9. Revising laws related to livelihoods and people’s way of life, such as cutting, reducing, or temporarily suspending unnecessary and burdensome approvals and regulations, facilitating financial conditions, and providing support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) while focusing on SMEs’ GDP growth, supporting industries, and strengthening Thai products to compete in the global market.
  10. Canceling restrictive regulations and promoting fair trade competition in all industries, such as the alcohol beverage industry. The National Party reserves the right to dissent, specifically regarding the alcohol beverage industry, due to religious reasons.
  11. Land reform throughout the system by promoting land reform legislation, equitable land ownership distribution, solving conflicts over forest areas and state lands overlapping with private lands, including reviewing cases resulting from forest reclamation.
  12. Improve the structure of electricity production, calculate prices, and optimize production capacity to reduce the cost of living for the people and promote energy security.
  13. Develop a new budgeting system, emphasizing zero-based budgeting methods.
  14. Establish a welfare system to care for people from birth to old age, considering long-term fiscal sustainability and fairness.
  15. Urgently address the problem of drug addiction.
  16. Reclassify marijuana as a controlled substance through a Ministry of Public Health announcement, with laws to regulate and support its beneficial uses.
  17. Promote safe agriculture and livestock, protect and preserve the benefits of farmers, reduce production costs, promote market access, technology, and water resources, and encourage farmers’ cooperation in planning production and maintaining agricultural benefits. Promote agro-processing industries to create economic value.
  18. Amend fishing laws, eliminate obstacles, rehabilitate, and develop sustainable fishing occupations.
  19. Improve the rights of workers in all professions to have fair employment conditions and receive wages that correspond to the cost of living and economic growth.
  20. Upgrade the healthcare system to provide quality healthcare services to the public, including prevention, treatment, and health rehabilitation.
  21. Reform the education system to enhance quality, reduce disparities, and promote lifelong learning.
  22. Foster cooperation and mechanisms within and between countries to address air pollution and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
  23. Implement foreign policy by restoring Thailand’s leadership role in ASEAN and international arenas, following various cooperation frameworks, particularly regional cooperation frameworks, and maintaining the political balance between Thailand and major powers.

And these are the governing principles all parties agreed upon in the MOU:

  1. All parties will protect the rights and political participation of all citizens.
  2. All parties will work with integrity and honesty. If any member of a party engages in corrupt or unethical behavior, all parties will immediately terminate their position.
  3. All parties will treat each other with respect, sincerity, and support, placing the interests of the people above the interests of any individual party.
  4. All parties have the right to advocate for additional policies, as long as they do not contradict the policies outlined in this joint agreement, relying on the executive authority of the party’s representative in the government.
  5. All parties have the right to advocate for additional policies, as long as they do not contradict the policies outlined in this joint agreement, relying on the legislative authority of the elected representatives of each political party.

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