PM’s tough stance is made clear to ministers. Cannabis shops to be shut by April 1st, 2025. Srettha Thavisin aims to reclassify cannabis as a narcotic by the end of 2024. It will come amidst a wider planned crackdown. Wednesday’s meeting at Government House included three top ministers. Firm action proposed against drug users. The public decidedly opposes marijuana liberalisation.

An order given by the Prime Minister on Wednesday would close cannabis shops in Thailand by April 1st, 2025. On Wednesday, Srettha Thavisin made it clear he wanted cannabis reclassified as a scheduled narcotic by the end of 2024. It came as a high-powered working group zeroed in on firm plans for a drug crackdown in Thailand. The meeting was attended by three senior ministers, the Prime Minister, and the secretary to the Defence Minister. In short, one of the proposals agreed upon was the internment of drug addicts at a military base. In addition, discretion given to police in relation to small-time users was tightened. The Prime Minister said he wanted to see more vigorous police action in wiping out illegal drug use.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin made the unequivocal statement on Wednesday at Government House at a top-level summit on illicit drugs. He was joined by three senior ministers and the secretary to the Minister of Defence. If cannabis was again scheduled as a Category Five narcotic by December 31st, 2024, it would become law by April 1st, 2025.

At a drug summit at Government House on Wednesday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin laid down the law. He made it clear that he wanted to see cannabis reclassified as a Class Five narcotic substance by the end of 2024.

Present at the high-level meeting were Minister of Public Health Somsak Thepsutin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul, Minister of Justice Thawee Sodsong, and General Natthaphon Nakphanit, secretary to the Ministry of Defence.

The PM adopted a decisive tone on the issue.

Hardline tack consistent with France 24 interview at the end of March when PM Srettha Thavisin made clear his utter disdain for marijuana liberalisation

His position is consistent with his controversial interview with France 24 at the end of March. Previously, Mr Srettha had caused some controversy when he described marijuana as a destructive force in Thailand.

In an exclusive interview with France 24’s Matt Hunt, he took issue with the interviewer’s premise of a valuable new industry coming into being around the drug.

Afterwards, the PM’s comments drew a mild rebuke from then Minister of Public Health Cholnan Srikaew. Mr Cholnan questioned if the government chief’s views were in line with the government policy statement to parliament.

In turn, this may best explain the removal of Mr Cholnan from the cabinet weeks later. Many have questioned the removal of the loyal Pheu Thai stalwart and vote winner in northern Thailand.

The clear statement from Mr Srettha on Wednesday will worry cannabis industry operators. Relisting cannabis as a scheduled narcotic would, in effect, reverse the 2022 move of former Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul. This sparked the marijuana revolution by denying police the power to take criminal action.

Move by Mr Srettha would wipe out the industry just as quickly as it came into being by allowing for police action against those using and selling cannabis

In short, it would authorise the police to prosecute the possession and use of the substance. Therefore, it would be for users to prove a medical dispensation.

However, this is clearly what Mr Srettha has in mind. In the meantime, his statement comes just days after the new Minister of Public Health, Mr Somsak, suggested a public consultation on the issue.

Currently, the Ministry of Public Health has a bill being drafted to codify the proper use of marijuana as a non-schedule substance.

Before his removal from the cabinet, its passage had been a key objective of Mr Cholnan. At the same time, the former minister appeared ambivalent on this issue.

Cannabis law emerges as a big political threat to the coalition judging by what happened in the 2022 revolt
Jail time to return for Cannabis players as Srettha describes the trade as a threat to the country and economic negative

At Wednesday’s meeting, Mr Srettha stressed that confusion or ambiguous regulation was exactly what he did not want. 

Prime Minister orders the five-pill methamphetamine policy to allow police discretion to be scrapped. Proposes that anyone with illicit drugs face action

In another rebuke to Mr Cholnan, he ordered the five methamphetamine pills rule to be scrapped. Furthermore, Thai police had been instructed to enforce arrests where necessary. Presently, Thailand is in the midst of a drug epidemic.

Fueled by huge importation of the product from manufacturers located in the infamous Golden Triangle, the supply is overwhelming. This week, a teenage boy was arrested with a loaded truck containing six million methamphetamine pills.

Undoubtedly, at Wednesday’s meeting, the Prime Minister acknowledged the intractable nature of the problem. He noted that even with four to five times the number of police arrests, the price of pills remains constant. 

Nevertheless, Mr Srettha called for clear rules and regulations.

He took issue with vague terms such as small quantities of drugs. He ordered the five-pill rule rescinded and replaced with one pill. Indeed, anyone found with illicit drugs must face action. This includes mandatory treatment at state camps.

Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin, Godfather of the liberalised pot in Thailand has switched emphasis. He is now, as Minister of the Interior, tough on crime

Bhumjaithai Party leader and pot liberator Anutin Charnvirakul was anxious to show his party’s tough line on tackling the drug menace in Thai society.

It is certainly good politics in Thailand.

At the meeting, the Minister of the Interior, Anutin Charnvirakul, the architect of the marijuana revolution, was anxious to show a new anti-drug front. He suggested that even half a pill was too much.

It is now accepted the Bhumjaithai Party’s pro-marijuana policy did not win it votes in the 2023 General Election. Nonetheless, with only 3% of the national vote, it won 71 seats. 

In turn, this was helped by a skewed result. In short, the Bhumjaithai Party and Palang Pracharat Party won 27% of constituency seats with only 4% of the vote between them.

Unquestionably, this stems from the unpopularity of drugs in Thailand.

In short, the general public in Thailand is opposed to marijuana as much as methamphetamine or any narcotic. In addition, the marijuana revolution is associated by Thais with lawless foreigners.

Speech by Thaksin’s daughter presaged Wednesday’s initiative by the Prime Minister at Government House

The Get Tough on Drugs policy was presaged by a speech over the weekend by Pheu Thai leader Paetongtarn Shinawatra. Ms Shinawatra or ‘Ung Ing’, reminded an audience of Pheu Thai’s anti-drug credentials.

Her father, ex-Premier Thaksin Shinawatra is remembered positively for his controversial anti-drugs crackdown over two decades ago. In short, this was subsequently linked by his critics to extrajudicial police activities.

Nonetheless, it was a resounding success and was accepted as such at the time. Thailand as a society turned its back on what was seen as a morally inferior ‘drug culture’. The campaign chimed well with traditional values and Thaksin’s progressive economic and social programmes.

On Wednesday, Mr Srettha similarly took up that hardline approach.

The PM said the defeat of drugs was a top priority of the government. He called for a test case with a military base used to treat drug addicts engaging in a rehabilitation programme, as a pilot.

Srettha said tough and decisive action must be taken to stop users falling back into the drug use cycle.

Broad daylight attack by a perverted and deranged man on a young woman at a BTS station in Samut Prakan high on drugs, kratom and marijuana by his own admission

The meeting came just 24 hours after a 26-year-old man was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman in broad daylight. In brief, the attack took place at Kheha BTS station in Samut Prakan province near Bangkok.

Suthat Chuayrot had been masturbating on the platforms of the facility. The Samut Prakan resident attacked the 30-year-old woman with a knife.

Certainly, the attack was recorded on CCTV footage. He was only thwarted by the arrival of another member of the public on the steps where the struggle was taking place.

Mr Suthat had been taking the date rape drug Flunitrazepam, kratom juice, and smoking marijuana before the attack.

Details of the case were given by Police Colonel Nopphadon Changruean, the Mueang Samut Prakan police chief. The culprit was arrested on foot of an arrest warrant.

Toddler drowned by a drug addict in Rayong just a week after a southern farmer with a mental illness caused by marijuana bloodily murdered his own family

On Tuesday, a drug addict in Rayong province drowned a toddler in a pond.

This incident occurred at a shrimp farm in the Kalenag district. The child was the son of a coworker of the accused man identified as a 36-year-old Mr Nuttapong.

Marijuana use is linked to a tragic murder-suicide case in Nakhon Si Thammarat on Monday morning

Before this, on Monday, April 29th, a 50-year-old man with a history of mental illness linked to regular marijuana use, murdered his family. The shocking incident occurred in the Tha Sala district of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

At length, the crazed man bludgeoned his 49-year-old wife and 22-year-old son to death.

In short, this is how the Thai public perceives marijuana or narcotics. The Pheu Thai Party has long proposed a crackdown on drugs.

However, it now appears that this will entail the end of the marijuana revolution era on Thailand’s streets.

PM calls for tougher and more robust police action

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Srettha also called for tougher and more robust enforcement of the law by police. He said he wanted to see the Royal Thai Police working harder to drive out the drug menace.

Undoubtedly, the move to place marijuana back on the list of prohibited narcotics will allow this.

Consequently, it will see all cannabis and pot outlets closed down overnight. Indeed, their operations will become illegal three months after the minister signs the new order.

In turn, this could mean that cannabis outlets in Thailand will cease operations before April 1st, 2025. Certainly, it will not be an April Fool’s joke.

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Further reading:

Cannabis law emerges as a big political threat to the coalition judging by what happened in 2022 revolt

Jail time to return for Cannabis players as Srettha describes it as a threat to the country and economic negative

Marijuana industry faces disaster as Health Minister unveils law to outlaw recreational pot use in Thailand

Potent pot to be criminalised as the minister looks at ways to suppress recreational cannabis use

Two deaths linked with cannabis use and violent incidents reported in recent days by Thai police

Go easy on the growing cannabis industry says Anutin who concedes that Pita will be the next PM

Thai Marijuana tycoons ponder mixed messaging from the Move Forward-led coalition on the drug

Crackdown on crime wave against Chinese tourists in Bangkok as concerns also raised on cannabis

Cannabis remains illegal as ministers push through a law controlling its use by the public after decriminilisation