Is Weed Still Legal in Thailand? New Government Proposals Signal Changes

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 11, 2024 13:35 PMNews
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Man holds cannabis leaves in his hands
Man holds cannabis leaves in his hands. Source: pixabay

In less than two years since the legalization of cannabis in Thailand, the new conservative coalition government is proposing strict regulations that could potentially reverse the wave of legalization.

After Thailand legalized marijuana, neon signs with cannabis symbols appeared in tourist hotspots in Bangkok, and promotional brochures with cannabis menus were offered by numerous vendors. However, the recent proposals aim to tightly regulate marijuana, primarily for medical use.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin recently urged the Ministry of Health to expedite the issuance of regulatory acts that would limit the use of cannabis exclusively for medical and health purposes. He also ordered local authorities to combat crime associated with illegal drug trafficking and demanded results within 90 days.

Since the conservative coalition government, led by the Pheu Thai Party, came to power, calls for crackdowns on cannabis have intensified. Pheu Thai emphasizes the need to ban recreational marijuana use, citing health risks and the potential for substance abuse among youth.

Former Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who once supported legalization, now holds key positions in the government. Despite initial promises of limited recreational use, loopholes in cannabis regulation legislation have led to widespread availability and concerns about drug abuse.

Before the legalization of cannabis use in Thailand, there were strict drug laws, and possession of cannabis could result in up to 15 years in prison. The proposed bill provides for fines of up to 60,000 Thai baht or imprisonment for recreational use, as well as fines of up to 100,000 baht for advertising or marketing cannabis for recreational purposes.

While discussions on changes are ongoing in Thailand, cannabis shops continue to operate, but smoking or using cannabis in public places is prohibited. Tourists are advised to refrain from possessing cannabis, especially when traveling to neighboring countries with strict drug policies, such as Singapore.

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