Although it’s not yet on the same level as Amsterdam, Thailand is gradually becoming more cannabis-friendly. In a momentous decision, the Thai government took marijuana off the narcotics list, meaning people can grow however many plants they want at home and restaurants can cook with cannabis. However, because the law still has lots of grey areas, both citizens and businesses have to be careful.
If you think of Thailand, stunning temples and scenery probably come to mind. In addition to that, the delicious food might make your mouth water. On June 9th 2022, however, the Thai government made a groundbreaking decision that puts it ahead of many other countries- they removed all parts of the cannabis plant from their narcotics list. This makes Thailand the first country in Asia to decriminalize weed without partial criminalization methods such as medical marijuana laws.
On this momentous occasion, the government distributed 1,000,000 cannabis plants to elated citizens who love cannabis. 4,200 prisoners placed behind bars for nonviolent cannabis offenses also had their freedom restored due to the change in long-awaited legislation.
While many people are surprised and pleased by Thailand’s new cannabis policy, it’s important to know a few things about the laws before getting too excited.
New Weed Laws in Thailand: A Quick Glance
Despite what recent news might have led you to believe, Thailand has only decriminalized cannabis use. However, users must still obey certain laws to avoid getting into trouble. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the biggest changes caused by Thailand’s new weed legislation:
- The Thai government de-criminalized the possession and use of weed for medicinal purposes. However, those caught smoking it in public will still face a €686 fine and up to three months in prison.
- Cannabis extracts with more than 0.2% THC are still illegal in many places.
- To keep you from feeling alteration while still providing a powerful experience, all of our food items only use 0.2% THC or less .
- If people smoke cannabis only in the privacy of their homes, they will not face legal penalties.
- Homeowners in this state can have an unlimited number of cannabis plants.
- In this state/country, it is legal for citizens to grow and distribute cannabis plants.
Although Thailand has decriminalized cannabis to some extent, there are still restrictions in place for THC-containing products and extracts due to public health concerns.
Why Did Thailand Legalize Weed?
It may look like the government is condoning drug use by giving away cannabis plants, but people can’t walk around town with joints or potted plants.
- The government decided to legalize for three primary reasons, which are as follows:
- For medical purposes
- For economic benefits
- To give citizens another option when it comes to their own health
The objective of this bill is not to promote recreational use, and in some cases it remains a crime. This change, however creates a whole new industry that could help with the post-covid slump. Ministers are hopeful that businesses like cafes and restaurants will be able to sell cannabinoid-infused food–but there are several limitations faced by these types of enterprises.
Can You Grow Weed in Thailand?
The Bangkok Post published an infographic outlining the laws related to growing and smoking cannabis in Thailand. According to the Royal Thai Police, citizens can:
- Legally own and grow an unlimited amount of plants
- Distribute cannabis plants
- Legally smoke cannabis
Thai citizens are now legally allowed to grow plants in gardens, indoor rooms, and on balconies. The government app PlookGanja offers guidance for would-be growers and promises privacy for at-home growers without fear of repercussion.
Some members of Thailand’s cannabis cultivation industry are concerned about the lack of knowledge new growers have regarding producing high-quality flowers. Suphamet Hetrakul, from Teera Group, has spoken out about these concerns.
With the newfound popularity of cannabis, many corporations are now trying to enter the market. Unlike citizens, who can grow it at home without any restriction, these corporate entities have to get a license from the Food and Drug Authority before they’re able to cultivate it for profit.
Did Thailand Legalize Recreational Marijuana?
Currently, the Thai government only wants to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes. Even though the Royal Thai Police permit cannabis use in private homes, using it recreationally is still a bit of a grey area. For example, smoking cannabis in public could result in being fined 25,000 baht (€686) and spending three months in prison due to causing public disturbance.
In addition, there are still very strict laws surrounding cannabis extracts and other preparations. These products can only contain up to 0.2% THC, which is the same as the European Union’s rules for hemp that is used for agricultural purposes. This means that businesses selling these goods will have to try harder to attract customers by marketing the non-psychotropic cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids found in cannabis plants – properties which produce no ‘high’ effects.
Are Restaurants and Cafes Allowed to Sell Cannabis-Infused Products in Thailand?
If restaurants and cafes want to make more money, they should capitalize on the legal cannabis industry in Thailand. For a while now, places like Bangkok have been offering CBD-infused dishes–and now that THC concentrations are legally allowed to not exceed 0.2%, these establishments can incorporate cannabis into their menus. Anutin Charnvirakul–Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister of Thailand–publicized this when he posted a picture on Facebook of a chicken dish garnished with cannabis leaves.
What Does Legal Weed Mean for Tourism in Thailand?
Although the prospects for cannabis in Thailand look good, underlying legal barriers will prevent the country from becoming Asia’s Amsterdam anytime soon. In an interview, Charnvirakul advised against tourists visiting solely to access recreational cannabis. He said, “If you think that you want to come to Thailand just because you heard that cannabis or marijuana is legal … (or) come to Thailand and smoke joints freely, that’s wrong.”
How Thailand Legalized Weed: A Brief Look at the Past
For years, Thai politicians have been promising to legalize cannabis. In 2016, Thai Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya called for the government to decriminalize the drug and in 2019, the newly elected cabinet followed through by implementing a policy that alters The Narcotics Act which legalizes cannabis only for medicinal purposes. In order to garner more support during the 2018 election, the Bhumjaithai Party promised to legalize cannabis use if they were elected. The new legislation not only permits private large-scale cultivation of cannabis but also allows for its use across the nation.
Nevertheless, Professor Sarana Sommano of Chiang Mai University has expressed her concerns and called the move hasty. She went on to criticize the government for their lack of specific regulations surrounding project implementation and usage limits. Furthermore, she believes that cannabis legalization will give a few powerful companies monopoly over the industry; similar to what occurred with alcohol. Local lawmakers are proposing preventative actions be put in place to avoid this from happening. Only time will tell if these efforts prove successful!