Coalition squabble over cannabis continues

Coalition squabble over cannabis continues

Dems, Bhumjaithai both cite ‘disrespect’

The Democrat Party has urged the Bhumjaithai Party to respect the opinions of others after one of its party MPs opposed the latest Cannabis and Hemp Bill if the clause allowing the recreational use of marijuana remains unchanged.

On Wednesday, Sathit Wongnongtoey, a Democrat MP for Trang, stated the party’s MPs would vote against the Cannabis and Hemp Bill because the House committee vetting it had ignored all the alterations proposed by fellow coalition party MPs from the Democrats as well as those by opposition Pheu Thai MPs, and also a number made by the faculty of medicine of Chulalongkorn University.

It has been reported that the resistance has raised concern for the bill’s sponsor, the Bhumjaithai Party, as it could prove to be damaging to the government coalition.

Yesterday, Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit said the party has remained firm on its stance against allowing the recreational use of cannabis but will continue to support it for medical purposes.

Mr Jurin said the party was concerned about the long-term effects that completely free use of the drug may cause and would rather there was a clear stipulation that it should be for medical purposes only.

“The party is not an employee hired by any companies. The party steers its own path on every issue in politics,” said Mr Jurin.

Asked if the conflict will affect relations among coalition parties, Mr Jurin said the core of democracy is rational debate.

“Political parties that respect democracy must also respect the opinions of others and respect and listen to the voices of the people we serve,” he added.

Meanwhile, Natchanon Srikokuea, deputy spokesman of the Bhumjaithai Party, opposed the stance of their coalition partners on the matter.

Mr Natchanon said it is unprecedented as once a bill had reached the point of House scrutiny it was considered disrespectful and insulting for those supposed to be on the side backing the government legislation to now oppose it.

Moreover, the Democrats’ proposed alterations have already been written into the present draft of the bill.

“The draft cannabis bill was participated in by many parties and registration for plant cultivation was requested by millions,” he added.