Karom Phonphonklang: Reclassification of Cannabis Could Cause Public Harm

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thailandTHC > News > Karom Phonphonklang: Reclassification of Cannabis Could Cause Public Harm

Last updated on June 25th, 2024 at 10:17 am

  • Driving The News: Deputy Government Spokesman Karom Phonphonklang warns against reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic, highlighting potential public harm and legal burdens.
  • Why It Matters: Reclassification could criminalize many citizens, leading to arrests and prosecutions, and impact small cannabis-related businesses that have emerged since decriminalization.
  • The Big Picture: Karom emphasizes the importance of developing comprehensive cannabis legislation that considers medical, economic, and legal factors.

BANGKOK, THAILAND – On June 13, 2024, Deputy Government Spokesman KAROM PHONPHONKLANG issued a public warning to the Minister of Public Health, SOMSAK THEPSUTHIN, regarding his push to reclassify cannabis as a type 5 narcotic. Karom argued that such a decision should not cater to specific groups but consider the broader public, who may lack bargaining power, to avoid widespread harm and distress.

Karom pointed out that while cannabis was previously classified as a type 5 narcotic, extensive studies have shown its benefits for medical use and economic advantages. Since its decriminalization, many small cannabis-related businesses have flourished, serving medicinal purposes and as ingredients in food and drinks.

He cautioned that reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic would lead to arrests and prosecutions for possession, imposing significant financial and legal burdens on individuals. Karom urged the current Public Health Minister, who formerly served as the Justice Minister, to provide statistics on the number of people prosecuted for cannabis possession before its decriminalization and how these numbers have dropped since.

Karom also advocated for the passage of comprehensive cannabis legislation that regulates its use while considering economic, legal, and medical contexts. He emphasized that reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic is inappropriate and peculiar, given the evidence supporting its benefits and the current push for regulation.

On the same day, Assoc. Prof. Dr. PATTAPONG KASETSOMBOON of Khon Kaen University presented data showing a significant reduction in healthcare visits and costs from 2021 to 2023. The Ministry of Public Health’s data indicated a decrease of 26.7 million healthcare visits, saving at least 19 billion baht. These savings coincide with the period when cannabis was decriminalized, suggesting a potential correlation.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pattapong recommended further studies to explore this potential link, highlighting the positive impact of decriminalization on healthcare efficiency and costs.