Health Minister claims photos of Pattaya boys smoking grass staged

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Photos shared widely on social media, depicted two young boys smoking weed from a bamboo bong at the site of the old Pattaya pier on Friday.

Photos of young boys smoking marijuana on Pattaya Beach were staged in an attempt by political opponents to discredit him, Thailand’s health minister claimed, without evidence.

Anutin Charnvirakul said Saturday the video was a political stunt to damage his Bhumjaithai Party and its tentpole policy to decriminalize cannabis and hemp.
The photos, shared widely on social media, depicted two young boys smoking weed from a bamboo bong at the site of the old Pattaya pier on Friday.



Anutin scoffed at the image, asserting that boys that age could never afford the ganja or the bong.
But the boys had no problem getting money. They’re all street kids who live by begging from tourists on Walking Street.

One 10-year-old boy was caught and sent back to the Banglamung Home for Boys on Friday night. He had been sent to the home for wayward boys by his grandmother, who washed her hands of him and his lack of “discipline”. He escaped and went to live on the beach and was caught sleeping about 100 meters from where his photo was taken.


A police officer speaks to one of the pot-smoking street boys holding his pet puppy.

A boat rental agent said he often sees the boys smoking electronic cigarettes, which are more expensive than marijuana. They come from a housing project on Soi Nernplubwan and come out at night to beg.

Krittiwat Matong, 35, said he posted the photos online when he came to see the fireworks on the beach. Krittiwat said he warned the boys not to smoke grass, but the boys acted defiantly.
Krittiwat said he wanted authorities to stop this kind of behavior on the streets.

Anutin, however, thinks it’s all about him, although he conceded homeless children are a problem. Such kids smoke or inhale other things, too, he pointed out, not just marijuana.



He called out a Rayong MP, who said Anutin was responsible for the cannabis mess, including kids smoking it. He said the MP should talk to fellow Democrat Juti Krairiksh, the minister of Social Development and Human Security about the country’s youth problems.

Anutin claimed if the Democrats want such situations solved, they should support his bill to set legal standards for the sale and use of cannabis, which is about to have its second and final readings in the house.