Legalization is gaining ground in Thailand
Anutin Charnvirakul, leader of the Bhumjaithai party: A Thai party that wants to let households grow cannabis is in demand after a hard-fought election campaign. He said the April 3 that his policies need to be supported by groups seeking support in coalitions.
Since the 2014 coup, Thailand held its first elections last month, and the Bhumjaithai party became a key legalization partner after winning 39 seats in the lower house and finishing fifth in the popular vote.
The Bhumjaithai party wants to allow households to cultivate 6 feet per person, a vaguely-based approach to the US state of California.
Let's not forget that Thailand has become the first country in Southeast Asia to approve the use of cannabis for medical purposes last December.
The Bhumjaithai party - which means "Thai Pride" - is led by Anutin Charnvirakul, a mega rich amateur pilot, son of a construction mogul, and unlikely advocate of the medical benefits of the plant.
He turned out to be a very courted candidate because two of the main parties need his allegiance - and party seats - after the disputed vote.
Their campaign has made waves by posting cannabis leaves. He also talks about deregulation for businesses, promoting ridesharing services and a 4 work week.
"Marijuana has more positive than negative properties," 52's young man told AFP during an interview in his Bangkok office, nearly two weeks after the 24 poll March.
Educated at Hofstra University in New York, Anutin maintains a collection of original signatures of American presidents from George Washington in the corridor.
"We have to choose the party that will accept our policies," he said, adding that he wanted people to have access to the fledgling industry so that big business would not get started.
The choice is between the Phalang Pracharat Party, supported by the junta (military dictatorship), which won the popular vote, or the Pheu Thai, which formed an alliance with six other anti-junta parties and claims a majority in the lower house .
Analysts also mentioned Anutin as a possible prime minister in a large market that would include loyalty to his party.
Although he refused to specify in which direction he is leaning ahead of the full results announcement on May 9, Anutin said Bhumjaithai is looking for parties that emphasize unity, a "Thailand first" approach and respect for the monarchy.
While a junta-appointed Senate has the right to vote for the highest office, analysts say Phalang Pracharat still needs medium-sized parties like Bhumjaithai in the lower house to avoid a crisis of legitimacy.
Anutin expressed general weariness with the bitter political divisions that paralyzed Thailand for more than a decade.
"I do not want supporters," he said. "I want everyone to get together and look for the best solution for the country."