Legalization of Marijuana in Thailand — Explanations from the Minister of Health

Is it possible to smoke marijuana at home in Thailand, what is allowed and what is prohibited due to the legalization of cannabis since June 9

Legalization of Marijuana in Thailand — Explanations from the Minister of Health

Since June 9, cannabis has finally become a legal plant in Thailand and can be used not only for medicinal purposes, but also as a cash crop. It is now legal in the kingdom to grow marijuana for personal use, and commercial businesses can cultivate the herb on an industrial scale to produce cosmetics, food and innovative products.

However, under Thai law, cannabis extracts containing more than 0.2 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are still on the list of illegal drugs. In all other cases, users and producers no longer need to worry about legal issues.

Marijuana Legalization in Thailand

Thailand legalized marijuana for medical use in 2019, but people were still being arrested and convicted on cannabis-related charges. This was because the plant was still a controlled substance under several laws. For example, under the Drug Code, cannabis was illegal until December 9, 2021.

After the Drug Code was amended late last year, the Department of Health issued a regulation in February legalizing all parts of the cannabis plant. The ordinance went into effect June 9, paving the way for full legalization of marijuana in Thailand.

Thanks to the ruling, anyone who wants to grow marijuana for personal use can do so without the need for a prior permit. However, one must register with the Food and Drug Administration’s Plookganja app.

However, to grow cannabis for commercial purposes, you still need to go through the government review and approval process. Producers who use cannabis parts and extracts must comply with relevant laws. For example, when marijuana is added to food and beverages, producers must comply with the Food Law. If cannabis is used in the production of cosmetics, the Cosmetics Act must be followed, and manufacturers of cannabis-based medicines are subject to the Medicines Act.

Smoking marijuana for recreational purposes?

Surprisingly, the law is still not quite clear when it comes to recreational cannabis use after June 9. Police say they will arrest people for smoking marijuana in public places if the smoke bothers others. Violators could face a fine of up to 25,000 baht and/or up to three months in jail.

When asked directly whether it is legal to smoke marijuana at home, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul cryptically replied, «Some actions are legal, but contrary to conscience.» Despite the minister’s insistence on the legalization of cannabis in Thailand, he never campaigned for recreational use of marijuana.

The THC in marijuana is considered to relieve pain, muscle spasms, glaucoma, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea and anxiety. However, this psychoactive compound is also responsible for the herb’s famous «high» or euphoric effect.

A cautionary note about marijuana abuse

The Psychiatric Association of Thailand has called on the government to raise public awareness of not only the benefits, but also the potential harms of cannabis. The association warns that marijuana use can cause people to develop mental health problems.

«We are concerned,» the association said in a statement. «We want to emphasize the need to limit vulnerable populations’ access to cannabis.»

According to the association, young people are more likely to become addicted to cannabis than adults. Cannabis use is also said to affect IQ (intelligence quotient), reasoning ability and emotions. The association claims that marijuana use by pregnant women can affect fetal development, and that marijuana addiction can exacerbate domestic violence.

The Center for Drug Research at Chulalongkorn University recently estimated that about 1.89 million Thais aged 18-25 used marijuana for «non-medical» (recreational) purposes last year. That number doubled from 2020 — possibly because of relaxed cannabis-related laws.

Convicted marijuana offenders in Thailand go free

The latest change in drug laws has benefited more than 4,100 people behind bars for cannabis-related offenses. Of those, 884 are in custody awaiting investigation or trial, and the rest are convicted and incarcerated.

Most of them will soon be able to go free because marijuana is no longer illegal under Thai law. «They will be released and their convictions will be expunged», confirmed Tawatchai Chaiyawat, deputy director general of the Department of Corrections.

Legalization of Marijuana in Thailand — Explanations from the Minister of Health Legalization of Marijuana in Thailand — Explanations from the Minister of Health

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