Thailand Will Curb Free Cannabis Use

Stephen Andrews
26 Sep 2023

Is the end near for Thailand’s burgeoning cannabis scene? It’s difficult (and painful) to imagine that authorities will actually try and downsize the kingdom’s lavish and extravagant weed market. But, as it seems, some freedoms will definitely be lost. Prime minister Srettha Thavisin has said that in the future cannabis will be for medical use only, citing “widespread” problems arising from drug use. The South Asian country decriminalized marijuana last year.

Thailand’s new prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, said in a statement that his government will “rectify” its cannabis policy and restrict use for medicinal purposes only. The regulation shift is supposed to take place within the next six months, according to the PM’s statements. 

Thailand made headlines in 2022 when it became the first Asian country to decriminalize cannabis after removing the marijuana plant from the list of narcotics. The government also made other fantastic, unprecedented movements. A month before decriminalization, it started dispatching one million cannabis plants, gratis for home cultivation.

While Thailand never actually passed regulation for cannabis, the decriminalization itself led to a boom of cannabis shops, clinics and restaurants in popular tourist destinations such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

However, not introducing a concrete law that will regulate the recreational use of the plant and plant-derived products has left cannabis in a legal vacuum. Any restriction to now limit cannabis for medicinal use only, will at least partially lead to a shrinking market after the big boom. 

The new prime minister Srettha Thavisin is a real estate tycoon whose term in office started in August; he also acts as the kingdom’s finance minister. His government coalition numbers 11 parties, which were vocal against the use of narcotics in their pre-election campaign.

“The law will need to be rewritten,” Srettha told reporters during his stay in New York for the UN general assembly in September. “It needs to be rectified. We can have that regulated for medical use only,” he said. 

Asked whether there will be a compromise for recreational use, Srettha was defiant. He added that problems related to the use of drugs have been “widespread lately.” 

Srettha has made similar comments on cannabis restrictions also earlier. “Cannabis policy will be medical cannabis. On recreational use, I do not agree with that,” he said in a separate interview.

Under the current law, anyone aged 20 and above who is not pregnant or breastfeeding can freely use cannabis at their homes, while licensed operators are allowed to serve hemp and THC infused dishes. 

Thailand’s cannabis sector is projected to reach a value of more than $1.2 billion over the next couple of years. The kingdom has always been a popular tourist destination, but the free use of cannabis became an extra stimulus for travelers, especially from countries in the regions like Singapore and Japan, where the prohibition continues. 

Not all operators in the hospitality sector have been happy about the liberation. Oftentimes there are problematic weed consumers and vacationers. Still, nobody can deny that cannabis has been a huge economic boost for Thailand in its post-pandemic recovery. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

What Led to the Cannabis Boom in Thailand?

- Which Countries Might Follow Suit with Thailand? 

- Smuggled Weed Huge Problem in the Kingdom

Stephen Andrews