Thailand’s legalization and widespread availability of marijuana is raising concerns among locals who suggest cannabis be re-criminalized
Thailand is concerned about the safety of children after photos surfaced on social media of 9- and 10-year-olds smoking cannabis from a bamboo hookah on the beach in Pattaya resort.
In June, Thailand removed marijuana from the list of banned drugs to allow the public to use the medicinal properties of the plant. Beforehand, however, there have been few laws regulating marijuana use or protecting young children from cannabis use.
By law, cannabis in Thailand cannot be sold or used by persons under the age of 20. However, when cannabis is so available that it can be bought from street vendors, it’s not surprising that the group of elementary school-aged children in the photos managed to get their hands on some weed.
Krittivat Mathrong, 35, who posted the photos, wrote that he stumbled upon the children while on his way to watch fireworks in Pattaya. As Krittivat was getting ready to get on the boat, he saw children sitting on the beach smoking something with a bamboo hookah. At first the man thought the children were just playing, but when he got closer to them, he realized that the boys were actually smoking, and not tobacco, but marijuana.
According to Krittiwat, the children looked 9 and 10 years old and appeared to be homeless. An unidentified 25-year-old man was with them, crushing pressed marijuana and handing it to the children so the weed could be conveniently smoked from a bong. When Krittivat asked where their parents were, the children said they were not there. However, when the man warned them that they were too young to smoke marijuana, one of the boys said: “I’m not afraid of you, my daddy is a soldier.”
On his social media page, Krittiwat wrote, “Look how far we’ve come, today 9-10 year old kids are smoking marijuana. What is happening to our society? What are the authorities doing?” Young children openly smoking marijuana on the beach is damaging the image of Pattaya, the man added.
Online users expressed their concern for the well-being of children in the comments to the publication because smoking marijuana at such a young age can be harmful. The incident also sparked calls for the re-criminalization of marijuana in Thailand by opposition politicians.
In response to the post that went viral on social media, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that anyone who gave marijuana to children violated the rules against selling to people under the age of twenty and should be arrested. The law clearly states that cannabis is illegal for children. However, Anutin questioned the reality of the incident, saying that the photos could be staged to compromise him for unknown reasons. The minister stressed that cannabis was never intended for recreational purposes.
Nevertheless, according to police reports, around noon today, December 2, Pattaya police found two children asleep on the beach and took them to Banglamung Hospital. Officers determined that the teens had escaped from a center for homeless children.
Both boys will be transferred back to the children’s center, but this time they will be closely monitored by the appropriate officials. Nattamon Kiidamrongkul, head of the Chonburi Children’s Center, said the boys constantly run away from the center. She tried to find out where the children got their cannabis, but they flatly refused to answer.
Also with the children was a dog, who seemed to be their best and only friend. The dog was allowed to be taken with them to the shelter.
Recently, Thailand finally banned cannabis inflorescence, the part containing the highest amount of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol. But many believe that it is too late – the genie is already out of the bottle and it is impossible to control it.
Recall that in Russia, marijuana refers to the I list of prohibited substances (substances withdrawn from civil circulation without exception). In accordance with the current Russian legislation, the purchase, storage, transportation, manufacture, processing of narcotic substances without intent to sell can be a crime.
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