Thailand Rushes Law Allowing Medical Use of All Class 5 Drugs

A ranger stands amid a large strand of cannabis to be confiscated Oct. 8 in Phetchaburi province.
A ranger stands amid a large strand of cannabis to be confiscated Oct. 8 in Phetchaburi province.

BANGKOK — A stopgap measure to rush legalization of medical marijuana was set aside Friday as lawmakers found a way to complete their broader rewrite of the Narcotics Act in time to get it before the cabinet as soon as next week.

Instead of carving out an exception to reclassify cannabis, the interim legislature opted to go back to its original plan of redefining Class 5 drugs to permit medical use. Pending a legal review, they hope to forward it to the interim cabinet by Tuesday.

The special committee overseeing the decriminalization effort today signed onto pausing the reclassification of non-narcotic “CBD” cannabis extracts as it might run afoul of the current narcotics law. A draft of the new law was submitted to the Health Ministry today for review.

Food and Drug Administration chief Tares Krassanairawiwong said they will also consult with the Council of State whether the reclassification of cannabis and cannabinoids, the latter of which has medical value but no psychoactive properties, is possible under the current law.


“We’re pushing both ways forward,” he said. “We’ll use whichever measure that can be done first.”

National Legislative Assembly member Somchai Sawangkarn today revealed the key changes to the Narcotics Act before submitting it to the Health Ministry.

All Class 5 drugs – marijuana and kratom – would be usable for medical and research purposes, with cultivation and import allowed “in the case of necessity.” Possession would be permitted in limited quantities for patients with prescriptions, and for emergency treatment on ships, planes or other modes of transportation.

Somchai said cultivation and experimentation of Class 5 drugs would be controlled by the Narcotics Control Board.

Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said his ministry agreed with the main thrust and will review the details before endorsing it to the cabinet. Justice Minister Prajin Juntong said that could happen as early as Tuesday.

Tares said the cabinet could pass the law within a month after it is taken up.

In the meantime, Tares said the FDA will draft several pieces of subordinate legislation to regulate conditions and guidelines of use, which will cover both the extracts and plants, to support the main law. They aim to enact them at the same time.

He said Thai traditional medicine practitioners will also be allowed to treat patients with it.

Correction: A previous version of this article indicated medical use of opium would also be allowed as it was also a Category 5 drug. In fact it is Category 2 and such uses are already allowed.


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