Professor warns against reclassifying cannabis as illegal narcotic

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Picture of Professor Panthep Puapongphan courtesy of Pattaya News

Professor Panthep Puapongphan, Dean of the College of Oriental Medicine at Rangsit University, voiced concerns regarding efforts to reclassify cannabis as an illegal narcotic. He believes that such a move could worsen drug-related issues rather than improve them.

Prof. Panthep stressed that cannabis has played a significant role in helping individuals quit more harmful substances like methamphetamine and heroin. He argued that data comparing post-decriminalization periods with the lockdown year of 2021 is misleading, as fluctuations in psychiatric cases were more likely due to the Covid-19 pandemic rather than cannabis use.

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“Reclassifying cannabis could remove a critical tool in combating severe drug addiction.”

Studies indicate that cannabis is less addictive than alcohol and tobacco. The probability of addiction to cannabis is 9%, compared to 15% for alcohol and 32% for tobacco. A 2022 Canadian study published in the Harm Reduction Journal surveyed 3,110 people and found that 83.7% used cannabis to reduce dependency on opioids, alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The study showed that 50% used cannabis to reduce stimulant use, 31% to reduce opioid use, and 25% to reduce alcohol consumption.

Another study from 2024 indicated that 25% of cannabis users in Vancouver used it to reduce more dangerous drug use, with 50% reducing stimulant use and 31% reducing opioid use.

Global reports from 2020 highlighted that among the 284 million drug users aged 15-64 worldwide, 209 million (73.6%) were cannabis users, while opioid users accounted for 61 million (21.5%), amphetamine users for 34 million (12%), cocaine users for 21 million (7.4%), and ecstasy users for 20 million (7%).

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Despite the high number of cannabis users, cannabis-related deaths were significantly lower than those related to opioids, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Opioids accounted for 77% of drug-related deaths, methamphetamine for 7%, cocaine for 4%, and cannabis for 4%.

Prof. Panthep concluded that controlled cannabis use has proven effective in reducing dependency on more dangerous substances and should be considered a strategic tool in addressing drug addiction issues, reported Pattaya News.

In related news, Prof. Panthep addressed misinformation about an alleged increase in psychiatric patients following the decriminalisation of cannabis on June 9, 2022. His comments came in response to claims suggesting that this legal change has led to a surge in psychiatric issues.

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