BANGKOK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Thailand’s new Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Friday spoke out against the recreational use of cannabis, but said his administration would continue the policies supporting its medical use.
Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country last year to decriminalise cannabis, but within a week of the move, issued a raft of rushed, piecemeal regulations to curb its potential unchecked use, including by children.
“Cannabis policy will be medical cannabis. On recreational use, I do not agree with that,” he said in an interview with Thai news website, The Standard.
Srettha’s Pheu Thai party leads an 11-party coalition government, which came into power in August. Its largest partner, the Bhumjaithai party successfully spearheaded decrminalising cannabis under the last administration.
Both parties have said they only support medical use.
The country’s cannabis industry is projected to be worth up to $1.2 billion over the next few years, with thousands of businesses springing up in tourist hot spots.
“Drug abuse is a big problem for the country that’s been under-addressed … cannabis has to be used medically,” Srettha said.
Earlier this week, Srettha, who is also finance minister, unveiled a economic policies aimed at boosting consumption and spending as recovery drags in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy.
“This is a targeted policy, domestic spending will increase enormously,” he said, referring to his signature policy of a 10,000 baht ($282.09) giveaway via digital wallet to all Thais aged above 16.
The handouts worth 560 billion baht are expected to be rolled out in February.
Srettha also said in the interview he plans to draw in foreign investors at meetings with business leaders in New York when he attends the U.N General Assembly meetings later this month.
Photo: Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. EPA-EFE/NARONG SANGNAK