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Buddhist monks banned from using cannabis, except as medicine


The Sangha Supreme Council (SSC) has banned Buddhist monks and novices from smoking or growing cannabis but permitted them to use it to treat illness.

The decision was made during the council’s meeting on Friday, according to National Office of Buddhism spokesman Sittha Moonhong.

The ban covers cannabis, hemp and kratom — all of which have been legalised following their removal from the Public Health Ministry’s narcotics list.

The legalisation of cannabis on June 9 led to concerns that monks and novices may start using the herb freely and even grow the plants in temples, Sittha said.

 

“There may be a misperception [among Buddhist monks] that doing so is no longer illegal and anyone can do it,” he added.

Therefore, the SSC has set guidelines for the Thai monastic order regarding marijuana, he said.

No Buddhist temples or monastic grounds can be used for planting cannabis, hemp or kratom, according to the new rules. Monks and novices are not permitted to consume cannabis, hemp or kratom, except as treatment prescribed by a doctor.

The SSC also instructed monastic administrators at all levels to ensure that monks and novices under their supervision comply with the guidelines strictly.

The SSC is the governing body of Thailand’s Buddhist order, serving as the ultimate authority on ecclesiastical matters.

Explaining the reason for the ban, Sittha said that although the Buddha’s teachings do not directly prohibit the use of cannabis, hemp or kratom, the plants have impacts on users’ mental and nervous systems. As a result of those impacts, users could act in a way that violated monastic precepts.

Published : July 01, 2022