Thailand’s public health ministry has drafted a new cannabis act that aims to restrict the use of marijuana to medical purposes only, disallowing recreational consumption. The draft specifies that cannabis extracts with more than 0.2 percent THC will be considered a narcotic, potentially leading to prosecution for buyers and sellers. While medical use of cannabis will be permitted and even expanded, recreational use will be explicitly prohibited. Cannabis shops will need to acquire detailed licenses, prohibit on-site smoking, and refrain from selling cannabis buds.
Despite the legalization of cannabis last year, the lack of regulatory guidance has resulted in a “free-for-all” situation, with around 6,000 marijuana shops, many unlicensed, emerging—particularly in tourist areas. The new legislation is intended to regulate the market, prevent oversupply, and clarify that recreational use is not acceptable. However, critics argue that the distinction between medical and recreational use is vague. Jo Jintana, a cannabis shop owner, expresses skepticism about the effectiveness of the law, noting that past police crackdowns on vice have been sporadic and for show, citing the ongoing prevalence of prostitution despite its illegality since the 1960s.
While some cannabis outlets position themselves as medical dispensaries, their names often imply recreational use, which may lead to further scrutiny and the need for rebranding under the new law. The future of these businesses will depend on how the new regulations are implemented and enforced.
- Thailand is drafting new cannabis legislation that will restrict recreational use while allowing and expanding medical use.
- Cannabis extracts with more than 0.2 percent THC will be classified as narcotics, and marijuana shops will require licenses and must prohibit on-site consumption and sale of buds.
- The new regulations aim to address the current unregulated market since decriminalization, although there is skepticism about their effectiveness and enforcement.
“Supporters of stricter rules say a new law will help avoid oversupply in a saturated market and end the misconception that smoking pot for fun is fine and dandy.”
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