H&P lawyers have prepared some comments on the updates of the new regulations of Cannabis and Kratom in Thailand as on 4th August 2020, the Council of Ministers of Thailand approved in principle the draft Drug Act as proposed by the Ministry of Public Health.

The draft aims to amend the Act to allow patients, medical practitioners and traditional healers, with approval from licensed producers, to produce, import, export, sell, or possess Cannabis for medical and commercial purposes.

It is believed that such amendments would help to provide a better access to health care and develop knowledge on Cannabis, as well as further advance medicinal Cannabis. This can be seen as another step towards easing the control of Cannabis by the government.

According to the existing law, the Drug Act B.E. 2562 (2019) (volume 7), only government agencies or private agencies who work with the government can apply for the license to produce, import and export Cannabis, while patients, practitioners of Thai traditional medicine and traditional healers are not eligible to apply for the permission to produce Cannabis in order to use Cannabis-containing medicine for themselves or to treat their patients.

Therefore, the use of medicinal Cannabis and the development of medicinal Cannabis are quite limited. The draft is also supported by the President of the National Farmers Council, believing that it will have a positive effect on local medical wisdom and promote the pharmaceutical industry, which could lead to beneficial effects on the economy and the country’s pharmaceutical security.

Furthermore, it will also enable producers of medicinal Cannabis products to compete in international markets. However, unless the new Drug Act comes into effect, the existing law still applies. This means that no individuals, private entities or agencies other than those who have obtained licenses from the government are able to produce, import, export, sell or possess Cannabis at the moment.

In the meanwhile, Kratom plant or Mitragyna Speciosa, which is considered narcotic under the same category of the Cannabis according to the Narcotics Act B.E. 2522 (1979), is now under the consideration of the Council of Ministers to be removed from the national narcotics list and penalties for offenses related to Kratom will also be repealed.

Moreover, the Council of Ministers has also approved in principle the draft Kratom Act, which will serve as the legal framework governing the use of Kratom, aiming to specify control measures, prevent Kratom use among children and adolescents, prevent the misuse of Kratom, as well as promote and develop the use of Kratom in commercial and industrial industry to increase the competitiveness of the country.

In the opinion of H&P lawyers, although the essence of the draft Act permits the use of Kratom for the treatment of disease and for study purposes, however, it is prohibited to consume Kratom mixed with drugs, narcotics or active substances, and for people under 18 years of age to consume Kratom. In addition, it is prohibited to encourage anyone under the age of 18 or pregnant women to consume Kratom. Violating such provision would result in a fine up to 2,000 baht. Furthermore, producing, importing or exporting Kratom are still prohibited unless obtained authorization by the Narcotics Control Board. At the moment, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, together with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Public Health have been developing a control model for Kratom use and exploring on areas that will serve as pilot test areas for such model. The findings from the pilot test of the control model would contribute to the development of prevention mechanisms for misuse of Kratom to be adjusted in the new Kratom Act and an extensive study on its medicinal benefits.

If you need to talk with a lawyer on the legal status of kratom for medical use, please contact H&P in Bangkok at [email protected]

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