Temporary rules issued hastily to control use of legalised marijuana
Relevant authorities are scrambling to issue new regulations to control the use of marijuana a week after the plant was removed from the narcotics list before a regulating law was in place.
The Public Health Ministry on Thursday issued a ministerial directive prohibiting the sale of cannabis and hemp to people aged under 20, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.
The directive, which describes marijuana as a “controlled herbal plant”, also bans smoking weed in public.
Regarding practitioners of traditional medicine, the ministry’s new regulation also prohibits possession of marijuana over the legal limit. It refers to the 1999 Act for the Protection and Promotion of Traditional Thai Medicine Wisdom regarding the penalty for violators. The law stipulates that violation carries a maximum of six months in jail and/or a fine of up to 10,000 baht.
Just a day before the directive was issued, Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt had announced that all schools under the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration are off-limits to marijuana from June 15.
Effective from June 9, marijuana is no longer considered a narcotic plant, except for its extract containing over 0.2 per cent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive compound that makes people feel “high”.
A draft bill on cannabis and hemp, which is to regulate the use and sale of the newly legalised plant, just passed the first reading by the House of Representatives on June 8.
Unlike cigarette smoking, no law exists to prohibit smoking marijuana in public. So, health authorities plan to apply the Public Health Act of 1992, which prohibits any “act of public disturbance” caused by smoke and smell, for example. Violators risk a maximum of three months in prison and/or a fine of up to 25,000 baht.
Separately, the Department of Health issued two directives on the use of marijuana as a cooking ingredient in food shops and on the storage of the plant.
However, the new directives are viewed as recommendations rather than regulations, as they set no penalties for violators.
One of the department’s directives requires food shops that sell cannabis dishes to display warnings, such as “Not recommended for persons under 18, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers”, “Stop eating immediately in case of unusual condition”, and “Persons allergic to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) should take precautions when eating”.