The open sales have upset many conservatives, leading to a call for marijuana — or at least the psychoactive parts of the plant used to get high — to be put back on the narcotics list.
Tuesday’s rally brought together cannabis farmers and shop owners who stand to lose out financially, as well as smokers who want to enjoy marijuana without harassment. They gathered near Government House because the national Narcotics Control Board was meeting there to consider the situation.
“We want to ensure that these politicians are not trying to put cannabis on the narcotics list again. If that happens, our fight for years will mean nothing,” Akradej Chakjinda, a coordinator of Cannakin, a network of cannabis decriminalization supporters, told The Associated Press.
A proposed Cannabis Act to implement Anutin's decriminalization policy is to be introduced in Parliament on Wednesday, but it may take several weeks to come to a vote. It is possible it will not pass because opposition parties joined by the Democrat Party, a member of the governing coalition, argue that cannabis should be strictly controlled as a narcotic drug until a law with adequate regulations is in place.
Earlier this month, in a move to ease the pressure to roll back deregulation, the Public Health Ministry announced a new ministerial rule to more strictly control the promotion and sale of marijuana buds. However, it has not yet come into effect.
Separately, the Administrative Court on Monday accepted a lawsuit filed by a doctor and opposition lawmakers seeking an order to nullify the ministry's decriminalization of marijuana. Anutin and the Narcotics Control Board are co-defendants.
Nutthawut Buaprathum, a co-plaintiff, said it is better to put marijuana back on the narcotics list until the proper laws are in place. He is a member of the opposition Move Forward Party, which initially supported decriminalization.
“We know that marijuana has a lot of benefits, so we gave full support to decriminalize it. But we did not expect that the Cannabis Act would take this long and that this would cause a lot of negative impacts on society because of no proper laws and regulations,” Nutthawut said.
Associated Press journalist Tassanee Vejpongsa contributed to this report.