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July 5, 2024

Domestic Pushback on Re-criminalization of Cannabis in Thailand

July 5, 2024

In May Prime Minister of Srettha Thavisin shared his administration's proposal to reclassifymarijuana as a narcotic, effectively limiting its use to medical and health purposes and recriminalizing recreational intake. The Ministry of Public Health plans to relist cannabis as “category five” narcotics, which would make it illegal to possess and consume the herb. As Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize recreational use of marijuana in 2022, this U-turn decision has sparked strong domestic pushback from pro-cannabis groups and businesses. They strongly urge the government to rethink the plan, especially since nearly 8000 dispensaries have emerged since the legalization two years ago. This would harm the thriving budding industry including farmers, retailers and users.
The push for the marijuana liberalization in 2022 was driven by Thailand’s pandemic-stricken economy. According to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the marijuana business is projected to be worth around $1.2 billion by the end of 2025. Many businesses call for a clear regulatory framework for cannabis use such as a comprehensive Cannabis Act with safety concerns on use among children and controlled growth, rather than an hazy abrupt ban on recreational use. The draft outlining the re-criminalization rule that the herb would be officially re-listed from January 1, and the Ministry of Public Health will consider public feedback from both sides until June 25. The draft did not mention any grace periods for the implementation of the law, which poses a concern for many operating businesses. It remains that to be considered legal under the current decriminalization law, cannabis products must not contain more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol — the psychoactive compound that provides a high sensation. The recriminalization bill is expected to undergo cabinet review next month before becoming a law.

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