Anutin accepts Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s Pot stance. However, in the meantime, he has called for foreign weed shop operators to be arrested. The government’s proposed crackdown on cannabis is meanwhile sparking outrage within the industry itself, threatened with extinction. Political alliances are shifting with the controversial issue soon to go before the cabinet for a decision.

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters that he would toe the government line on cannabis. He was commenting on the Prime Minister’s order to reschedule the drug as an illicit narcotic. Ultimately, this could see up to 8,000 recreational pot outlets shuttered in Thailand. At the same time, Mr Anutin made clear his preference for legislation to regulate the industry. Speaking with reporters, he then vented his ire on foreigners who he claimed were operating marijuana or cannabis outlets illegally in Thailand. He called for them to be arrested.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul was speaking to reporters on Thursday. He said he would accept the government’s decision on cannabis policy. However, he suggested that a bill to regulate the industry was the better approach. At the same time, he called for robust law enforcement against foreigners operating cannabis outlets illegally in Thailand.

Amid the furore caused by the order given by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Wednesday to relist cannabis as a scheduled narcotic, the minister responsible for the June 2022 pot revolution in Thailand has spoken.

At length, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul, was present at Wednesday’s summit on drugs. Indeed, at the meeting, Mr Anutin adopted a hardline, particularly relating to the possession of methamphetamine tablets.

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin appeared resigned to accept the government’s decision on the matter when it comes before cabinet for a decision in due course

In brief, he said the Bhumjaithai Party would argue the position in cabinet and vote accordingly. It would then accept the government’s decision.

On Thursday, however, the former Minister of Public Health indicated that he reluctantly accepted the call by the PM. At the same time, Mr Anutin made it clear that the regulation of cannabis through legislation was a better approach.

Jail time to return for Cannabis players as Srettha describes the trade as a threat to the country and economic negative
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Indeed, this had been the position put forward by ousted Minister of Public Health Cholnan Srikaew in March when Mr Srettha first announced his contempt for the drug in a France 24 interview.

Anutin says that he is no longer the Public Health Minister. He must let the current minister decide

Nonetheless, Mr Anutin accepted the position on Thursday. Basically, he pointed out that he was no longer the Minister of Public Health.

‘We have to let the current minister determine the policy, but we must provide information on why cannabis has more benefits than harm. We provide full information, and then we vote in the meeting. Whatever the outcome, we must accept it,’ Anutin told reporters.

Following this, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin took to X to thank his Deputy Prime Minister. The Prime Minister at the same time appeared to indicate a softening of his position. He suggested the matter needed more discussion in detail.

Therefore, he suggested that Minister of Public Health Somsak Thepsutin take up the running on the issue. 

Significantly, he acknowledged the agreement by the government to continue its policy of allowing marijuana for health and economic benefits.

Indeed, on Wednesday, Mr Srettha had underlined that the drug would still be available for health purposes.

Anutin says a law on cannabis use would at this time pass through parliament. He also reminded the PM of the government’s policy statement on the issue

Mr Anutin, on Thursday, suggested that legislation rather than relisting cannabis as a drug was the way forward.

The Deputy PM said he thought a law on the matter would pass through parliament at this time.

‘The issue of cannabis is in the government policy that has been stated to the House of Representatives that it wants to use it for health and the economy. If you ask the Bhumjaithai Party, I confirm that this is the best way. And the tool that will make control most effective is the issuance of the Marijuana and Hemp Act that we have been pushing for. If the government were to push it again this time, it would probably pass,’ he declared.

Meanwhile, pro-cannabis groups and business representatives of the sprawling network of 8,000 outlets in Thailand, have reacted with fury.

There are calls for protests on May 16th and also on June 9th, Cannabis Day. Cannabis supporters threaten to demonstrate outside Government House in Bangkok.

Cannabis activist group accuses the government of wanting to establish a monopoly. It has called for scientific evidence and data on the danger of the drug

In short, one activist group has charged the government with conspiracy. It suggested a plot to control cannabis distribution by the state in league with commercial interests. The Cannabis Future Network claimed that the government is in league with large business forces seeking a monopoly over the substance.

At the same time, like other groups, they are threatening both protests and legal action.

In particular, they challenge the government to show scientifically how cannabis is damaging to society.

Despite this common refrain, the Medical Council of Thailand and 16 other medical bodies have issued strong statements. In short, they warn that recreational use of cannabis is a danger to mental health, especially the young.

This has undoubtedly also been the position of experts within the Ministry of Public Health.

The bodies have called for cannabis to be strictly limited to controlled use for health purposes only.

Published studies in respected scientific journals in the United States and Europe show causality between daily and high-potency cannabis use and psychosis

In addition, studies in both the United States and Europe have been reported in respected medical journals. Certainly, they show a link between cannabis and psychosis.

One example of this is an article in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal. It shows that doctors in Europe in a wide-scale test showed a link between psychosis and daily use of cannabis.

Similarly, high-potency cannabis, such as that being sold in Thailand, was also a critical causal factor.

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

Nevertheless, the pro-cannabis lobby and its users are adamant there is no such link.

Government sharply criticised for indulging alcohol use in particular to boost the foreign tourism sector

In turn, they criticise the government for allowing more liberal access to alcohol. For instance, to promote the foreign tourism industry.

On Thursday, the Cannabis Future Network certainly made this point again.

‘We would like to inform the public that news reports of cannabis-induced psychosis are dubious. Individuals who have used cannabis openly and daily for more than a decade have shown no signs of psychosis. However, reports of cannabis-induced psychosis often involve people who have been using cannabis for a long time or only occasionally. This raises questions about the true cause of these incidents,’ the network opined.

In the meantime, Mr Anutin referred to the many thousands of prisoners locked up over cannabis who were subsequently released. 

For example, he noted that many general practitioners who engaged in Thai traditional medicine had been imprisoned. Mr Anutin appeared to link cannabis to Thailand’s ancient heritage.

Interior Minister Anutin turned his attention to the illegal control of marijuana shops by foreigners in Thailand. He called for all of them to be arrested

Afterwards, he turned his fire on foreigners in the marijuana trade. He called for police to pursue foreign owners of cannabis retail outlets and dispensaries. Anutin suggested that many shops are operated without being properly regulated by the Ministry of Public Health.

Certainly, this has been a consistent position of the deputy Prime Minister.

In 2022, at the height of parliamentary battles on cannabis, he made it clear that he did not see the drugs as something to be linked to foreign tourism.

Drugs to be an election issue as Anutin digs in insisting that attitudes must change on cannabis

At the same time, he denied there was any rift within the coalition government on the matter.

The outcome of this issue will define Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin in government. Cannabis or marijuana is not popular among the Thai public. Certainly, not the liberalisation seen since 2022 on Thailand’s streets.

At the same time, there is also speculation of a closer alliance between the Pheu Thai Party and the Bhumjaithai Party moving forward.

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Further reading:

Cannabis shops to be closed by April 1st 2025 under firm order given by PM to again schedule the drug

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