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Thailand legalizes cannabis trade, but still bans recreational use

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2022-06-11-Thailand legalizes cannabis trade, but still bans recreational use

It is now legal to grow cannabis plants and buy marijuana infused dishes in Thailand. People in Thailand can now grow cannabis plants at home and sell the crop after the country removed marijuana from its list of banned narcotics.

The country is the first to take such a step in Southeast Asia, a region known for its strict drug laws. Recreational use is still banned, although proponents say the easing is effectively decriminalizing marijuana.

Agriculture and tourism

The government hopes the development of a local cannabis trade will boost agriculture and tourism. It is even giving away a million cannabis seedlings to citizens to encourage cultivation. “It is an opportunity for people and the state to monetize marijuana and hemp,” Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health, said on his social media accounts last month.

He shared a photo on Facebook of a chicken dish cooked with cannabis, adding that anyone could sell the dish if they followed the rules – most importantly, products must contain less than 0,2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

From Thursday, households can grow up to six cannabis plants at home if they register with the authorities. Companies can also grow the plant with a permit. In restaurants, cannabis may be added to dishes and drinks.

Cannabis Clinics and Offenses

Clinics across the country can also more freely offer cannabis as a treatment. Thailand was the first in Asia to limit the use of medicinal cannabis in 2018 legalized† However, using the drug for personal use is still illegal. Officials have warned people against smoking in public, saying it is considered a public nuisance. Violators run the risk of being arrested.

Under the plan, the government also wants to release about 4.000 people convicted of cannabis-related crimes. Thailand, with its year-round tropical climate, has a long history of cannabis. Many local residents used it in traditional, natural medicines. As a result, many people were convicted of minor 'crimes'.

A broader cannabis control bill is currently under consideration in the Thai parliament. Proponents believe that a gradual relaxation of the usage rules could take place in the coming years.

Legal or not?

So is it legal or not? As Thailand's tourism economy recovers from its long Covid slumber, many tourists will wonder if the new liberal cannabis regime means they can light a joint whenever and wherever they want.

The government answer is no, you cannot smoke marijuana in public and it is still illegal to sell or supply products containing more than 0,2% of the main hallucinogenic substance THC.

The official goal is for Thailand to gain an edge over its neighbors by capturing much of the lucrative health treatment market with cannabis derivatives, especially the milder compound CBD. But there is another motive; reduce overcrowding in some prisons.

Which in theory means that now that cultivation of the plant in any quantity has been fully legalized, it's unlikely that the police will arrest people just for marijuana possession. There are already hundreds of companies in Thailand that were active before the new law and offer a whole range of marijuana products, such as restaurants that use the leaves in Thai curries. It is impossible for authorities to see how much THC some products contain.

The government insists they allow production and consumption solely for medical, not recreational purposes, but in practice that line has already faded.

Source: BBC.com (EN)

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