Vote trims weed control bill

The House of Representatives yesterday unanimously voted to remove Section 3 of the controversial cannabis/hemp control bill, which stipulates that cannabis was not considered a narcotic substance under the 2021 Narcotics Act.

Supachai Jaisamut, chairman of the House committee vetting the draft law, however, insisted despite the absence of Section 3, no parts of a cannabis plant are considered narcotic, except cannabis extracts containing more than 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis.

“We at first thought we needed Section 3 because if one day the Ministry of Public Health suddenly reversed its decision on the delisting of cannabis from the drug list, at least those business operators and growers of millions of cannabis plants wouldn’t be in trouble later,” he said.

After all, the committee later resolved to propose to remove Section 3 simply because it had given rise to misunderstandings among members of parliament in the previous passage of the bill about the real purpose of this section, he said.

Yesterday’s House voting on the committee’s proposal to remove Section 3 was 119 in favour, nil against and 31 abstentions.

The removal of Section 3 followed concerns raised by several MPs that it will allow room for the recreational use of cannabis which is something the draft law is intended to control.

The deliberation in the second reading of the bill then moved on to Section 4, which deals with the definition of terms in the draft law, including “produce”, “plant”, “grow”, and “scientifically synthesise”, which the committee has proposed to all be edited out, while leaving only the terms “make”, “mix”, “brew”, “transform”, “extract” and “package”. The definition of the term “sell” was also changed to broadly cover “distribute”, “give away”, and “exchange”.

Section 4 then sailed through with 117 votes in favour, 74 against and 65 abstentions. Three MPs didn’t participate in the vote on this section.

There have been some concerns that the changes could adversely impact household growers of cannabis plants.

Yesterday’s session, however, was adjourned due to the lack of a quorum while Section 7 of the bill was being deliberated.

Outside the parliament complex, a pro-cannabis group gathered to submit an open letter calling on MPs to pass the draft law to help to boost the economy.