| 7 December 2023, Thursday |

Thai PM candidate casts vote in marijuana-print shirt

Anutin Charnvirakul, the health minister of Thailand and a supporter of cannabis, attracted attention during the election on Sunday by showing up to the polls while sporting a dark shirt covered in vibrant green marijuana leaves.

The Bhumjaithai Party, which successfully pushed for the decriminalization of marijuana last year, has run its campaign on a vow to support medicinal marijuana; the 56-year-old is the party’s nominee for prime minister.

Without associated regulations in place, recreational use surged, angering the Southeast Asian country’s conservatives. Anutin has promised that if re-elected, he will tighten regulations to curb recreational use and restrict cannabis use to medical purposes only.

Anutin flashed a smile as he emerged from a voting booth and declined to answer reporters’ questions about the symbolism of his shirt.

His party, which ran on the same platform in the 2019 election, came in fifth place then, giving it a position in the current military-backed government. It is likely to repeat that performance this year.

Polls will close at 1700 local time (1000 GMT) in Thailand, where 52 million eligible voters could upset the status quo of nearly a decade of a government backed by the military, headed by retired general, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Prayuth faces off against the populist platform of the opposition Pheu Thai party, backed by the billionaire Shinawatra family, which has won every election in Thailand since 2001.

  • Reuters