In June 2022, Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration decriminalised marijuana and hemp. Here’s what that means for travellers
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At one time, Thailand was known to be a country with one of the strictest rules against drugs in the world, and the dreaded possibility of getting caught, whether warranted or not, was the subject of many Hollywood movies. In June this year, Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration decriminalised marijuana and hemp by removing these substances from the Category 5 narcotics list.
What this change of legislation means for Thais: they can grow and sell marijuana for medical use, a move that will lead to Thailand becoming one of Southeast Asia’s “herbal hubs.” However, the laws on the subject come with many caveats, and the Thai authorities have not yet drafted legislation to regulate its trade. Products for medicine or food must contain very small amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main hallucinogenic compound in marijuana, to remain legal, and the recreational use of marijuana is illegal – all of which makes buying and selling it very confusing at the moment.
What this change of legislation means for visitors to Thailand: If you visit, you will find cannabis almost everywhere. On Khao San Road in Bangkok, buds are being sold off streetside tables, and cocktails amped up with marijuana are on menus in all the visitor hotspots across the country. All of which is illegal.
The medicinal use of marijuana is legal. One can legally seek out marijuana for medical use. In 2018, Thailand became the first Asian country to legalise medical cannabis, and to approve it for industrial use as well. This extracted cannabis must contain less than 0.2% of THC, one can get a prescription at an approved hospital or clinic to use it for medicinal use, and one can use it in private – this keeps it all legal. Again to be used strictly for medical purposes, food and beverage products with cannabis must contain less than 0.2% THC. Be aware, however, that about 30% of the products being offered exceed the THC cap set by the government, and could attract legal attention.
Smoking marijuna is problematic. In an effort to curb marijuana smoking in public, the authorities can hit one with a fine of around Rs 55,000 and three months jail time under the 1992 Public Health Act. And, no, bringing in one’s own cannabis products into Thailand is not a way around the rules either.
It makes sense to stay away from recreational use of cannabis in Thailand, and certainly to never use it in public.
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