Thailand’s New Weed Law is Almost Ready

Stephen Andrews
06 Dec 2023

A year ago, Thailand became the first Asian country to decriminalize weed, promoting wide-scale cultivation of cannabis and building a vibrant tourism scene around it. However, the kingdom’s authorities are now months away from introducing a new version of the law where the main aim is to bring down recreational use.

Last month, Thailand’s new Public Health Minister, Cholnan Srikaew, informed the public that his ministry has completed the first draft of the Cannabis Hemp Act, which contains significant chunks of updates to address various public concerns and legal vacuums that permit people to use weed for recreational purposes. 

The Cannabis and Hemp Act will not reclassify the plant as a narcotic. However, the essence of the law still defines cannabis as a controlled plant, and any extracts that have over 0.2% THC remain listed as narcotics. 

Cholnan said that he supports the use of cannabis as a therapeutic agent, but he has been clear that he stands against free recreational use. “Those who grow cannabis - even for personal use - must have permission under the new law,” he said, according to the Bangkok Post

The New Thai Law Targets Recreational Use of Weed

The current version of Thailand’s cannabis law says that each household can grow up to 15 plants for personal use, given that they are used in a therapeutic manner. The law does not require growers to report their cultivation to local authorities, but that might be changed once the updated legislation is voted in. Everyone who wants to grow weed may be asked to seek consent from Thai authorities

The biggest fear has been around how this legal change affects the tourism sector. Most vendors rely on tourists for their income. Aside from the paradisal Thai beaches and islands, weed has become one of the main incentives why people from the neighboring countries flock to Thailand. A lot of tourists come from China, Japan, or Singapore, where drug laws are very strict and all they want is to have the cannabis experience. 

Although Thailand’s authorities say that the new cannabis law will not result in closing the weed shops, the statements from the Health Minister indicate otherwise. Some of them could be closed. Those shops that continue to operate will have to comply with new, firmer rules, such as not allowing smoking weed on the premises and not selling flower products

The law will further have to clarify which vendors will not be allowed to sell cannabis or permit weed consumption in their space. 

“We will not shut down all cannabis shops, but they need to comply with the law,” Cholnan said. “The new law will not allow them to sell cannabis buds for people to smoke or even have equipment for customers to smoke inside their shops. In the past, we could not control the usage, but with the new law, using cannabis for recreational purposes will be prohibited,” he said. 

The minister did not clarify if smoking in private spaces will also be illegal. He said that this remains a grey area where more feedback from the public is needed. 

The public will be able to read the law and provide feedback throughout the month of December. People will have two weeks time to comment on the law and have their say on the matter. 

The changes in Thailand’s legislation were in a way expected. It was a question of time when the authorities will address the legal loopholes that have remained open since the beginning of decriminalization, and that actually propelled the boom in cannabis. The pending new version of the law seeks to fill in exactly those gaps. 

One of the important things is that decriminalization moved a significant part of the cannabis trade away from the black market. Too many restrictions may revert that effect. But if the new regulations focus on creating a safer industry where for example the produced cannabis buds are tested for quality and purity, that would be a step in the right direction. 

Anything that threatens the tourism sector could be a step in the wrong direction. Thailand’s weed scene is definitely worth the experience, and it’s important that business continues even after the new law is implemented. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

- Thailand Will Curb Free Use of Cannabis

What Led to the Cannabis Boom in Thailand?

- Which Countries May Follow Thailand with Decriminalization? 

Stephen Andrews