Thai PM speaks out against Recreational use of Cannabis

Thai PM speaks out against Recreational use of Cannabis

Thailand's new Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has spoken out against the recreational use of cannabis but says his administration will 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," he said in an interview with Thai news website The Standard.

"On recreational use, I do not agree with that."

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 previous administration.

Both parties have said they only support medical use.

The country's cannabis industry is projected to be worth up to $US1.2 billion ($A1.9 billion) across 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.

His comments came as Thailand's Pita Limjaroenrat resigned on Friday as leader of the progressive Move Forward party, months after delivering a stunning electoral victory on an anti-establishment reform agenda that threatened to up-end the political status quo.

Move Forward was the huge surprise of the May election, thrashing parties backed by the powerful military and royalist establishment before it was blocked by conservative MPs from forming a government.

Move Forward now represents the bulk of the parliamentary opposition but will retain significant political clout having won the majority of seats in and around the capital Bangkok and taken over key urban centres and some conservative strongholds.

The Harvard-educated Pita, 43, was twice denied by parliament in his efforts to become prime minister as military-appointed senators closed ranks to stop Move Forward, some over its controversial plans to amend a law that insulates the monarchy from criticism.

"I want to allow other lawmakers to take on this role of opposition leader," Pita said on Facebook.

"But in any position, I will work with Move Forward and the people to the fullest of my abilities."

Pita is currently suspended from parliament due to a court case concerning his eligibility to run for office, stemming from shares he held in a media company, which is against election rules.

Pita has denied wrongdoing.

"I will continue to work with Move Forward and fellow citizens with all my strength to drive the change we hope for," he said.

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Region: Thailand

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