THE NARCOTICS Control Committee will seek further input before deciding whether to reclassify marijuana, which is now a prohibited narcotic, to enable its use for medical purposes.
“We have resolved to consult the Council of State first,” the committee’s chairman Pisit Sriprasert said on Friday, after emerging from the committee’s meeting.
Until yesterday, it was widely believed that the committee – which is attached to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – would agree to reclassify marijuana into a less-controlled drug category so that it could be used for patients just like morphine.
Various government figures are viewed as keen to legalise medical marijuana. According to several doctors, marijuana can be used to manage pain from nerve damage and cancer, nausea from chemotherapy and loss of appetite among HIV patients. It is also helpful for seizures and chronic neuro-inflammation.
Efforts to push for legalisation have been ongoing on various fronts in recent months, including a proposal for the FDA to reclassify marijuana.
But yesterday’s Narcotics Control Committee meeting fell short of making a decision, and instead chose to seek the opinions of the Council of State before deciding on the proposed marijuana reclassification next month.
“Committee members support the idea of using marijuana for medical purposes, but legal experts on the committee suggest that we should consult the Council of State in regards to legality and other committee members agreed,” said Pisit, who is also a deputy permanent secretary for Public Health Ministry.
FDA secretary-general Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong said his agency would move quickly to seek input from the Council of State, so the committee could then make a decision while taking into account the council’s opinion.
With the FDA reclassification now stalled, other approaches may take the lead in the effort to legalise marijuana for medical purposes.
Earlier this past week, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) prepared a short bill to legalise medical marijuana. The bill only has 17 articles, so it is expected to require only a short period of deliberation.
There is a possibility that the NLA may be able to clear the bill next month.
Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister ACM Prajin Juntong met with Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn on Friday to discuss the bill.
“We will present the bill on Tuesday for the Cabinet to consider and approve,” Prajin said.
He added that the bill would then be submitted to the NLA for deliberation.