Thailand legalizes cannabis trade but still prohibits recreational use

People will be allowed to cultivate it, but recreational use remains prohibited

From Thursday people can grow cannabis plants at home in a major policy change in a country long known for its tough drug controls, but the Thai government hopes the change in law will boost the wellness and tourism industries.

Pol Gen Roy Ingkaspairote, Deputy Commissioner of National Police and Director of the Narcotics Supervision Bureau (NSB), said police would no longer arrest people who use cannabis at home, but people who use it in public places causing disturbances, may face charges.

Cannabis oil extracts that contain more than 0,2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are classified as Category 5 and regulated by narcotics control and suppression laws. Cannabis is no longer considered a narcotic. People can plant it legally, but they must notify local authorities of any cannabis plantings. the cannabis bill and Hemp, currently before Parliament, will ban the sale of cannabis to pregnant women and people under 20. More than 4200 prisoners whose cases are related to cannabis will be released. Cannabis cases pending investigation will also be dropped while any arrest warrants issued for cannabis use will be revoked, he said.

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Regarding health issues, the Minister of Public Health is aware that the misuse of cannabis could lead to an increase in users, said Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary of the ministry.

Some people might use cannabis excessively or mix it with other narcotic substances, he said. The ministry will put in place a system to monitor those who may have mental problems caused by the misuse of cannabis.

“We will have a team of psychiatrists in each province to offer help. We will also set up another team to look into cases of road accidents that may be related to cannabis use,” Mr. Kiattiphum said. "We need to put in place preventive measures against the misuse of cannabis," he said.

The Ministry has also set up a Cannabis Communications Committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry which will raise public awareness on the proper use of cannabis for health or commercial purposes. The communications committee will not cover recreational use that could lead to addiction, he said.

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Panthep Puapongpan, the spokesperson for the Cannabis Communications Committee, said the risk of addiction to cannabis is low, around 8% compared to cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. Mr Panthep said cannabis has more benefits than harmful effects, which is why it was removed from the list of narcotics.

"Eating foods containing an excessive amount of cannabis is more dangerous than smoking cannabis," Panthep said.

“It has side effects such as panic attacks, rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. But I'm sure no restaurant will use it the wrong way because customers won't come back if they suffer from side effects,” he said. The committee will educate people on how to use cannabis properly.

According to the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are 1181 herbal products and traditional medicine remedies that use cannabis. The value of cannabis products could reach 15 billion baht in 2026. Meanwhile, Parliament on Wednesday adopted the first reading of the Cannabis and Hemp Bill with 373 votes in favor, seven against and 23 abstentions.

Tags : selfLawpoliceThailand

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