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Thailand Cannabis Advocates Rally After Lawsuit Challenges Decriminalization

The future of Thailand’s cannabis industry is up in the air after a new legal challenge could bring everything to a screeching halt. Advocates in Thailand are mobilizing in Bangkok today to defend their country.

An order, issued by Thailand’s Public Health Ministry, effectively removed cannabis from the country’s Category 5 narcotics list on June 9. These regulations legalized marijuana, hemp cultivation, and cannabis commerce. Cafés and restaurants are allowed to sell food or beverages that contain cannabis. However, they must not exceed 0.2% THC. Higher concentrations of THC may be permitted for medical purposes.

Things didn’t go over well with the opposition, however, and Thailand’s cannabis industry was slammed for its lack of basic controls. According to the opposition, Anutin Charnvirakul (Health Minister) caused social problems in Thailand and violated international and local law by issuing the Decriminalization Order. A new ministerial rule was announced by the Public Health Ministry to control cannabis flower promotion and sales, although it is still not in effect.

The Central Administrative Court on Monday accepted a lawsuit spearheaded by Smith Srisont of Thailand’s Medical Council and MPs from opposition political parties who seek to revoke the decriminalization order. Srisont, a member of Thailand’s Medical Council and the president of Thailand’s Forensic Physician Association of Thailand is Srisont. He names Charnvirakul (NCB), and Srisont as his co-defendants.

Pheu Thai (Thai Liberal), Prachachat and Pheu Thai are some of the political parties against cannabis.

Cannabis advocates in the area, however, aren’t going to accept the current legal challenge and are making efforts to have their voices heard.

Cannabis advocates fight back

One of Thailand’s top cannabis advocates Chokwan “Kitty” Chopaka announced on Facebook that she and other dispensary owners would rally together at noon on November 22 at the Government House in Bangkok to protest against the lawsuit that could end everything. 

“Dropping by different dispensaries around Sukhumvit to invite them to attend the protest tomorrow which went better than what I thought, I guess having your business threaten can make people quite active,” Chopaka posted on Facebook, translated from Thai.

“I apologize if I could not personally invite every dispensary, and I would like to take this time to invite all dispensaries to come out and protest against the Narcotics Control Board re-criminalizing cannabis again. Which means that all dispensaries may get shut down.”

“Those that do not want their businesses shut down. They don’t want their investments to disappear. They don’t want their cannabis grow to be hidden again. They want to legalize cannabis sales. They don’t want to return to being pissed tested. Those that want to see cannabis stay legal, come and join us.”

ABC NewsAccording to reports, around 200 people attended the protest at Bangkok’s Government House. “We want to ensure that these politicians are not trying to put cannabis on the narcotics list again. If that happens, our fight for years will mean nothing,” Akradej Chakjinda, a coordinator of Cannakin, a network of cannabis decriminalization supporters, told The Associated Press.

A proposed bill, the Cannabis Act, would implement Anutin’s decriminalization policy, and will be introduced in Parliament on November 23.

Another advocate, Soranut “Beer” Masayavanich, owner of Sukhumweed dispensary, announced that another group will gather at the Ministry of Public Health to discuss the upcoming Cannabis Act with Charnvirakul. 

“We aim to create mutual understanding on benefits that cannabis will bring,” Beer stated. “We insist that decriminalizing cannabis brings benefits to several sectors from tourism and economy to agriculture.”

Opposition leaders say that it is better to put cannabis back on the country’s banned narcotics list until the proper legislation is put into place.