Thailand’s Cannabis Act stalls in Parliament as lawmakers dig in

Kajkanit “Gem” Sakdisubha, co-owner at The Dispensary by Taratera, opens a glass jar to show buds. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
Kajkanit “Gem” Sakdisubha, co-owner at The Dispensary by Taratera, opens a glass jar to show buds. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

The Cannabis Act failed to advance in parliament after a majority of lawmakers voted against it last night.

Lawmakers voted 198-136 against advancing the bill, which seeks to establish regulations about the manufacturing, trade, and use of marijuana from the meeting agenda. Twelve abstained; one did not vote.

Opposition to the bill came from Satit Wongnongtoey of the old guard Democrat Party and Suthin Klangsaeng of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, who cited existing loopholes and raised concerns about cannabis being widely used recreationally rather than medically as proposed by health minister and Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul. 

A coalition of Democrat Party MPs even proposed relisting it as a narcotic and only leaving hemp decriminalized.

สภาฯ มีมติเสียงข้างมาก โหวตถอน ร่างกม.กัญชา ออกจากวาระประชุม

“If the parliament insists on continuing with deliberation of the bill, the Democrat Party will vote against it,” Satit said Wednesday.

Bhumjaithai Party’s Chada Thaiset said that if the bill was to be withdrawn, there might not be enough time to implement it during the current parliament, which will end by March. 

That would leave the current status quo, under which weed is unregulated and fully legal, in place into the next year and in the hands of the next government.

Parliament will go on recess Sunday and resume Nov. 1 through Feb. 28.

The Cannabis Act passed its first reading June 8, one day before decriminalization took effect nationwide. Details revealed late last month indicated that it would not affect the de facto decriminalization of recreational smoking

The Bhumjaithai Party has stressed the importance of the Cannabis Act in “setting a clear framework” on the legalization of marijuana and end the current legal vacuum. Party spokesperson Paradon Pritsananantakul said the bill can still be amended by lawmakers who see flaws in the bills.

Supachai Jaisamut, Bhumjaithai MP and president of the committee drafting the bill, said he would call for another meeting tomorrow to discuss how to proceed.

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