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Is weed legal in Thailand?

Updated June 21st, 2022: Rules and regulations change by the week so please note the last date updated.

The Southeast Asian Wonderland for Weed?

At First, Thailand legalized the use of medical marijuana back in 2018. However, the government was still against marijuana for recreational use, threatening heavy fines and penalties. Now – this has all changed. Officials have gone from a strong stance against, to now cultivating the weed business in the country, hoping to join the industry as it booms globally. As of 2022, Thailand has become the first Asian – not just Southeast Asian, but first country in the whole of Asia to decriminalize the drug. Although smoking the drug “for fun” will still be illegal, Thailand is lifting its strict rules and regulations towards it. The country has even freed over 3,000 inmates that were incarcerated on weed-related offenses from prison

person holding paper on kush

It’s important to note the difference between decriminalization and legalization. For weed in Thailand, it means that if you’re going to smoke marijuana for recreational use – you’ll no longer face criminal charges if you’re caught. However, it’s still illegal.

For the longest time, Southeast Asia was infamous for its harsh anti-drug laws.

Now Thailand is looking towards boosting its own economy with these changes, and in particular – its agricultural sector, and the farmers that were hit hard with rising costs. The Thai government is even planning to distribute one-million free cannabis plants across the country. This announcement comes from their very own Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul. Charnvirakul says that cannabis will be able to be grown as “household crops.” With that being said, the cannabis must be used for exclusively medical purposes – and requires a license for commercial use.

The distribution of the free cannabis plants started on June 9th, earlier this year. 

This is in an attempt to kickstart the cannabis growing sector, and use cannabis as a “cash crop.” The Thai government wants to capitalize on the new-and-growing industry, and be able to compete with international countries already cashing in on the business. 

“It will generate economic benefits for the country, as well as boost farmers’ potential to compete in the global market, which will help reduce the trade deficit with other countries.” – Charnvirakul.

Drug professionals also believe this could help stop the illegal trafficking of weed into Thailand – as they will be readily available. With that being said, users will need a prescription to access weed in the country legally. PlookGanja, the app/website used in Thailand for people to register to grow cannabis was so popular it crashed. It shut down after receiving more than 9 million applications.

woman near yellow neon sign

Thai Government-Approved Weed Strains:

Although weed is now legalized in the country, it doesn’t mean you can grab any old strain and grow it in your backyard. Here are the four government-approved strains. These strains have been approved by The Thai Foods and Drug Administration (FDA) and studied by the medicinal research institute. Here are the four strains and what makes them unique. The differences between the strains are more than just their looks and smell.

  • Hang Kra Rog Phu Phan ST1: This strain is equal parts CBD and THC. It features large, bushy flowers, and supposedly has a nice, rich aroma like mango.
  • Hang Suea Sakon Nakhon TT1: This strain has more THC than it does CBD. It’s supposed to smell similar to an orange peel, and features long flowers.
  • Tanaosri Kan Khaw WA1: The WA1 strain looks like a bunch of clustered flowers, and has a scent that is similar to lemongrass mixed with oranges. It has a higher level of THC content like the TT1 cannabis.
  • Tanaosri Kan Daeng RD1: The RD1 strain is similar to the WA1 strain – hence the similar name. However, it has a red appearance. It features more CBD than THC, and has less psychoactive effects.

Thailand is even planning to add their strains to the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. Seriously. 

What are the benefits of marijuana?

person holding grey tongs and kush

Medical marijuana has been shown to be effective for treating a wide range of ailments. From stress to anxiety, and even physical pain. For example, there has been situations where cannabis has been used to help with appetite loss, seizures, eating disorders, and even chronic pain. Medical cannabis can come in a variety of forms (not limited to): pills, oil, and even nasal spray. It is also being used in some countries to aid with mental health. There has been evidence to show the drug can be help relieve PTSD and depression symptoms. With that being said, caution is important – and always talk to your doctor! Legalization for medical marijuana is still new all over the world, and side effects are still being studied. Whilst marijuana is still illegal for personal use in Thailand, it is popular for recreational use, and helping to calm down. 

Marijuana and Hemp has been removed from Thailand’s Category 5 Narcotics List.

This change comes from The Thai Food and Drug Administration. Removing marijuana and hemp allows restaurants and cafes across the country to use cannabis-infused products in their menu. *The products must have no more than 0.2% of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Hong Kong has actually been moving in the opposite direction. The HK government has announced plans to actually shut down and criminalize the manufacturing, import/export, and sale/possession of any products containing CBD (cannabis chemical extract).

Asia’s long-running war on drugs.

It is no secret that Asia has had strict penalties and punishments regarding drugs. People have even been sentenced to death over drug offences in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia – even for just cannabis. Thailand (and the surrounding countries) has always had a head strong approach to dealing with drugs, so it is refreshing to see them consider alternatives. These changes to drugs, however, is only currently for cannabis. There seems to be no signs of decriminalization, or a “softer” stance on offences relating to harder drugs. Decriminalization for hard drugs remains a hot topic – not only in just Southeast Asia, but the world.

So, what happens next?

Thailand’s decisions to legalize marijuana for medical use, and decriminalize the drug overall sets a huge precedent for Southeast Asia. It will be interesting to see if these changes influence any other countries in the region. As of writing, the drug is still illegal in all the neighboring countries. The question now is whether or not Thailand will follow the footsteps of other countries, such as Canada, and allow it for recreational use. If Thailand really wants to compete in the global market for marijuana, it needs to step both feet in. The government needs to go full force with allowing recreational use, otherwise it will inhibit the growth of the cannabis industry there. Thailand is missing out on a huge market.

green plants on white metal frame

The future of Thailand is looking green! 

The global sales for medical marijuana were estimated at over $37 billion in 2021, according to the market intelligence firm Prohibition Partners. By 2026, it is estimated the market could be worth over $120 billion! The market will only grow exponentially bigger as other countries start jumping in, and want a slice of the money. So, is weed legal in Thailand? Short answer: Yes, for medicinal use. It has also been decriminalized in the country. However, that doesn’t mean you can just go around smoking or dealing weed in public for recreational/personal use. Licenses and prescriptions are still needed. 

Sources:

https://adf.org.au/talking-about-drugs/law/decriminalisation/overview-decriminalisation-legalisation/

https://www.bbc.com/news/61836019

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/thailand-greenlights-cannabis-patients-welcome-cheaper-supplies-2022-06-20/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-61741422

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/thailand-legalises-growing-consumption-marijuana-2022-06-09/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2022/06/14/marijuana-legal-thailand-tourists/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2022/06/14/marijuana-legal-thailand-tourists/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_in_Thailand

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2022/06/14/marijuana-legal-thailand-tourists/

https://coconuts.co/bangkok/news/yes-you-can-continue-selling-cannabis-just-not-to-moms-kids-teens/
https://coconuts.co/bangkok/news/you-can-carry-weed-on-domestic-flights-airports-of-thailand/

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