It's official! Thailand has decriminalised the possession, cultivation and use of cannabis (CBD and THC) since June 2022.
The Thai Food and Drug Administration has officially removed marijuana and hemp from the category 5 list of narcotics, a decision that made Thailand the first country in Asia to decriminalise marijuana for medical and industrial purposes.
However, the country does not legalise recreational marijuana nationwide and the Thai government is setting limits on the new policies. The new cannabis laws were created with medical, economic and health-related goals in mind, according to a post on the Thai government's official Facebook page.
Cannabis has been a topic of interest in Thailand for years. In 2018, Thailand approved the use of medical marijuana, making it the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. In May, Thailand's Minister of Health announced that the Thai government would distribute 1 million cannabis plants to Thai households once cannabis is legalised. In early June, the Thai FDA launched PlookGanja, a phone application and website that helps people register their cannabis and hemp crops, according to the Bangkok Post.
Cafés and restaurants in Thailand are allowed to serve cannabis-infused food and drink, but the food and drink must contain less than 0.2 % of THC to be legally sold.
Places like Highland Cafe in Bangkok used to be limited to selling products made from parts of the cannabis plant that don't get people high, but with new rules and regulations in place, the cafe has started selling marijuana, listing strains such as Sugarcane, Bubblegum or the Purple Afghani.
However, if you are planning to light up a joint in the park, Thailand is not the place for you! People who smoke weed in public in Thailand will face up to three months in jail and a fine of over $700. In addition, marijuana extracts, such as oilsIn addition to the above-mentioned legal restrictions, it is still illegal if it contains more than 0.2 % of THC, the chemical that makes people "high".
Thailand is mainly interested in making a splash in the medical marijuana market. It already has a well-developed medical tourism industry and its tropical climate is ideal for growing cannabis.
"We should know how to consume cannabis," Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, a marijuana booster, recently said. "If we have the right awareness, cannabis is like gold, something precious, and should be promoted."
Some of the immediate beneficiaries of the change are people who were locked up for breaking the old law.
"From our perspective, a major positive outcome of the legal changes is that at least 4,000 people imprisoned for cannabis-related offences will be released," said Gloria Lai, Asia regional director of the International Drug Policy Consortium, in an email interview.
"Those facing cannabis-related charges will have them dropped, and money and cannabis seized from people accused of cannabis-related offences will be returned to their owners," she said. Her organisation is a network of civic groups around the world that advocate for drug policies that integrate human rights, health and development.
The anticipated economic benefits are at the heart of Thailand's marijuana reforms, which are expected to boost everything from national income to small farmers' livelihoods.