Confusion, hospital visits trail in wake of Thailand’s partial legalization of marijuana

Nontarat Phaicharoen
2022.07.07
Bangkok
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Confusion, hospital visits trail in wake of Thailand’s partial legalization of marijuana A man smokes weed to celebrate Thailand’s partial legalization of cannabis at a weekend festival hosted by Highland in Nakhon Pathom province, June 11, 2022.
AFP

Thailand’s partial decriminalization of cannabis appears to have caused a haze of confusing problems, including health-related ones and some that aren’t necessarily a result of smoking or ingesting the weed known here as “ganja.”

Since the June 9 legalization of cannabis products containing under 0.2 percent tetrahydrocannabinol – the chemical which gives people that sensation of getting high – marijuana has become easily available in this Southeast Asian country surrounded by neighbors who still enforce tough drug laws.

Food and drink products laced with weed have now popped up at cafes, restaurants and 7-Eleven stores, such as in cannabis-flavored ice cream, cookies, smoothies, juice, iced tea, and croissants.

But many Thais are angry because, they say, a law to regulate marijuana consumption did not accompany its partial legalization. And that has caused its indiscriminate use in the first few weeks, leading to at least 40 people being hospitalized, including nine minors.

The government must speed up the law, Dr. Somnuk Siripanthong, president of the Society of Cytology, told BenarNews.

“Lately, [Thai] children have access to ganja,” he said.

“If foreign tourists want to smoke, just make a zoning away from the schools.”

When passed, the Cannabis-Hemp Act will prohibit the sale of marijuana to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and people under 20. Under the proposed law, ganja cultivation must be licensed and the authorities will have the right to search premises suspected of illegal activities.  

But the legislation will be a while coming, Thai lawmakers have said.

A businesswoman in Bangkok, who identified herself only as Namwan for privacy reasons, said she was rushed to a hospital within an hour of a biting a ganja cookie that she sampled from a friend.

“I felt like I was dying and thought of all bad things. I couldn’t help myself. I had an upset stomach, was shocked, trembled and could not control my body,” Namwan recalled.

“Whoever tries it must be mindful of ingesting too much, starting little by little, because not all react the same to ganja,” she told BenarNews.

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Vendors display CBD balms to celebrate the partial legalization of cannabis at the “Thailand: 420 Legalaew!” weekend festival in Nakhon Pathom province, Thailand, June 11, 2022. [AFP]

 

Ganja can cause three types of responses, Dr. Somnuk said.

“Sleepiness, aggression and paranoia. Ganja consumers have different responses. It depends on each individual,” he told BenarNews.

“Those responses can be caused solely by ganja consumption without any other substances.”

Two influential doctors’ groups have urged a ban on the non-medical consumption of marijuana.

“A 15-year-old boy was high, hallucinogenic and tried to stab others, so his parents caught him and sent him to a hospital. His urine was contaminated with ganja-related substances,” the Royal College of Pediatricians of Thailand and Pediatric Society of Thailand said in a statement this week.

The college and society said that ganja should be used only for medical purposes and only under the supervision of a doctor, and it should not be used in food and drink.

“While awaiting the new law, there must be a measure to control the use of ganja in foods and prevent access to it by minors, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers …. As well, relevant agencies must continually monitor and report the effects of ganja,” the groups said.

Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, meanwhile, defended his policy.

“The public health ministry does not encourage the unscrupulous recreational consumption of ganja … other than for curing stress, [and] insomnia,” Anutin said Wednesday.

“The persons who abuse a good thing deserve their karma. I can’t help because the public health ministry, the government intend to support good citizens to build their fortune.”

During a parliamentary meeting in June, Anutin said he hoped the change could benefit farmers in the medical ganja market, which was 7.2 billion baht (U.S. $199 million) in 2021, while the global market is expected to be 3.5 trillion baht ($97 billion) by 2024.

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A vendor sells a plant to celebrate the partial legalization of cannabis at the “Thailand: 420 Legalaew!” weekend festival in Nakhon Pathom province, June 11, 2022. [AFP]

Busted in Bali

Meanwhile, a Brazilian tourist, Alberto Sampaio Gressler, 25, was arrested on June 28 at the I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali on suspicion of bringing marijuana into the Indonesian island from Thailand.

Police said it was the first case of a visitor from Thailand being arrested with marijuana since the neighboring country legalized it earlier last month.

Marijuana is still a prohibited drug in Indonesia as a class 1 narcotic in the same category as heroin, cocaine, morphine, and opium.

Airport police spokeswoman Luh Mandyani told BenarNews the suspect was still being held there for questioning.

The suspect was carrying marijuana in four packages of different weights, totaling 2.8 grams, Mandyani said.

“The suspect bought it in Thailand, during a two-week vacation. Then he travelled to Indonesia. He admitted that he forgot to get rid of it. But on the customs declaration form, he wrote that he didn’t bring any prohibited substance,” Mandyani said.

Luh De Suriyani in Denpasar, Indonesia contributed to this report.

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COMMENTS

Brian Kelly
Jul 07, 2022 10:00 PM

There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize cannabis nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.






Cannabis consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

Plain and simple!

Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!

The prohibitionist view on cannabis is the viewpoint of a minority and rapidly shrinking percentage of Americans. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.


Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.


Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The vast majority of Americans have seen through the sham of cannabis prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.


With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what's left for a cannabis prohibitionist to do?


Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that's approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!


Legalize Nationwide!...and Support All Cannabis Legalization Efforts!

Brian Kelly
Jul 10, 2022 07:46 AM

Fear of Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, "Conspiracy Theories" and "Doomsday Scenarios" over the inevitable Legalization of Cannabis Nationwide a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of cannabis legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it's obviously defective.

The prohibition of cannabis has not decreased the supply nor the demand for cannabis at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about "saving us all" from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize cannabis when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They'll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Cannabis Laws.