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Recreational Cannabis Ban Expected Next Week In Thailand

Hemp cannabis plant leaf sungrown outdoors garden

A lot can change in two years in the world of cannabis policy, and a great, and unfortunate, example of that can be found in Thailand. Less than two years ago, in June 2022, Thailand modernized its cannabis policies to permit adult-use cannabis cultivation and possession in instances involving cannabis varieties that are low in THC.

At the time, the measure was hailed as an amazing achievement for the global cannabis reform movement, with cannabis being removed from Thailand’s list of banned substances. The monumental policy shift served as a particularly big deal in the region where Thailand is located, with many countries in the area still having some of the harshest cannabis penalties on earth.

Thailand’s new approach involved permitting every household in the entire country to sign up to legally cultivate low-THC cannabis plants. There were no plant limits for the government’s cultivation program when it launched, and Thailand’s government even gave away over 1 million cannabis seeds directly to households that signed up.

A broad spectrum of government agencies in Thailand agreed leading up to the implementation to do their part to push Thailand’s emerging cannabis industry forward. Thailand also released thousands of people serving time for cannabis offenses. That all changed in August 2023 when a new prime minister was elected, with the new incumbent vocally opposing cannabis reform.

It is being reported that as early as next week a new cannabis measure will be introduced, with the goal of the measure being to make it clear that recreational cannabis use is strictly prohibited in Thailand. Per The Straits Times:

On Feb 6, Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said the new Bill, which bans the recreational use of cannabis, will be proposed at the Cabinet meeting next week.

“The new Bill will be amended from the existing one to only allow the use of cannabis for health and medicinal purposes,” he told reporters. “The use for fun is considered wrong.”

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who took office in August 2023, has frequently voiced his opposition to the recreational use of the drug and said it should be allowed only for medicinal use.

It is no secret that cannabis has proliferated in Thailand, however, that was by design. The previous government in Thailand did everything imaginable to make cannabis production a priority, and to make cannabis widely available.

Yet, just because cannabis is more widespread in Thailand does not automatically mean that there are significant issues resulting from it. What is currently legal in Thailand, and soon to be prohibited, is cannabis which has a very low THC content.

Compared to the cannabis in other countries, such as Canada, the cannabis in Thailand is fairly benign. Unfortunately, lawmakers and regulators do not see it that way, and it is presumed at this point that Thailand is about to go backward on its cannabis policies.