Hun Manet has announced Cambodia will not be following in the footsteps of neighboring Thailand and has no plans to legalize the use of marijuana in the country once he gains power.
He said, “There were lobbies for the government to allow marijuana to be planted in Cambodia. Once I make this public remark against the idea of legalizing marijuana plantation, there is no way for me to change my mind.”
Manet said that he does not care which countries have legalized marijuana cultivation for whatever reason, he personally believes it is not beneficial for Cambodian citizens.
He also said that no matter how much income the government can get from taxing marijuana plantations, it is not beneficial for Cambodian citizens. Therefore, he will not approve it.
Additionally, Manet pointed out that there have already been cases of marijuana trafficking in Takeo province, even though marijuana cultivation is currently illegal in Cambodia.
He said, “As of now, marijuana plantation is not legal, but there were cases of marijuana trafficking activities in Takeo province. What would happen if the government legalizes the plantation of the plant?,” he asked.
Lastly, he said that he is not taking into consideration other people’s views on marijuana plantations, because people have different ideas. However, for him, he strongly disagrees with the idea.
Heng Kimhong, Director of Research and Advocacy Program of Cambodian Youth Network, believes that marijuana plantations should not be legalized in Cambodia as they contain chemicals that pose danger to human health.
He argues that Cambodia's context is different from other countries that have legalized marijuana cultivation, such as Thailand.
“Even though our neighboring country Thailand allows marijuana plantations, Cambodia should not legalize them because Cambodia’s context is different from those countries,” said the director.
Although marijuana is used in the health sector, Kimhong believes that demand for the plant is not great enough to justify legalizing marijuana plantations in Cambodia.
He said, “I think there is not much demand for marijuana supply in the health sector to the extent that we have to plant marijuana in Cambodia.”
Kimhong also believes that marijuana is not beneficial for Cambodia, even though it is used in the health sector. “The risk that marijuana poses to human health is greater than the benefit we get from it,” he added.
He suggests that other chemicals should be used instead, as they do not pose the same risks to human health.
Kimhong is concerned about the potential for illegal distribution of marijuana if it were to be legalized in Cambodia.
He said, “Imported marijuana should be strictly monitored and regulated to prevent bad people from illegally distributing marijuana with the excuse of using the plant in the health sector.”
He believes that this could negatively impact social order and security.
He also points out that law enforcement in Cambodia is not strong enough to prevent the illegal trafficking of, not only marijuana, but also other addictive substances.
He said, “Even though law enforcers have tried to prevent marijuana plantations in Cambodia, they failed to completely eradicate illegal plantations in the country.”
He believes this is a major problem that needs to be addressed.
Kimhong is now calling on law enforcers and relevant stakeholders to improve law enforcement in Cambodia to prevent the illegal trafficking of marijuana and other addictive substances.
“Weak law enforcement will reduce public truth in the local authority. Therefore, the prevention of illegal trafficking of marijuana should be a priority as stated in the law,” he added.