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The Bhumjaithai Party, a Thai political movement credited with helping to partially legalize cannabis, has accused opponents of using the issue for political gain ahead of the country’s May 14 election, claiming that cannabis reform is a must if it is to join any governing coalition.
Thailand changed its marijuana laws in June 2022, allowing licensed companies to grow and sell the substance solely for medical purposes. However, parliament failed to adopt a comprehensive marijuana act before it was disbanded in March to make room for election campaigning.
Recreational smoking has flourished in the legal void, prompting worry among critics who argue the legislation is too broad and too fast. The main prodemocracy parties, Move Forward and Pheu Thai, both of which are anticipated to win the majority of seats, claim that the liberalization of marijuana has been chaotic, encouraged marijuana usage and has fallen short of helping impoverished farmers as promised due to the high costs of investment.
The issue has also divided a generally conservative populace in a nation with tight drug laws, and many are concerned by the easy access to high-strength marijuana, especially among young people.
In response to the criticism, Supachai Jaisamutr, the Bhumjaithai party’s top marijuana official, cautioned that politics is masking the contribution of cannabis to Thailand’s economy, which is expected to reach at least $1.2 billion by 2025.
Thais are expected to vote in leaders for the 500 seats in the lower house on May 14, 2023. A 250-member Senate that was appointed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his backers, however, plays a controversial role in the election. The Senate is expected to back the conservative party that wins the elections. Furthermore, it holds one-third of the total 750 votes for the prime minister after the government is formed.
The main conflict is considered one between conservative parties, particularly Prayuth’s United Thai Nation, which wants to retake power, and prodemocracy parties, which have been out of power since Prayuth’s coup in 2014. However, the marijuana controversy is playing a surprisingly significant role. Experts predict between 80 and 100 seats could be won by Bhumjaithai, the second-largest party, which is led by Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. The party would potentially have the final say in whether a government-forming coalition would be made up of prodemocracy forces or the conservative group.
Long-time supporters of marijuana decriminalization have been appalled by the politics of marijuana. They worry that the political commotion surrounding cannabis may result in restrictive regulations when the next administration debates the specifics of the Marijuana Act.
For small Thai cannabis businesses, the political conflict has overshadowed the biggest issue facing the domestic market: the illicit importation of marijuana from the United States or Laos, which is five times cheaper than Thai produce.
Marijuana is a divisive topic in many parts of the world, not just in Thailand, and enterprises such as IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) that have opted to come up with pharmaceutical-grade medicines from this plant somehow avoid the controversy surrounding the plant since their work involves adhering to the strict drug-development laws in the jurisdictions where they intend to get their medicines approved for use in the healthcare system.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC
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