Thai PM cannabis comment sparks protest in capitol

thai cannabis protest: Cannabis activists wearing shirts saying

When Thailand decriminalized cannabis, American tourists rejoiced. Cannabis connoisseurs flocked to the country to tap into the culture and enjoy the local flare. The rapidly growing industry is expected to bring in $410.80M this year. Unfortunately, the heyday was short-lived, and political parties pulled back on the newly opened legality. Now, cannabis operators fought back by way of peaceful protest in Bangkok.

In the summer of 2022, Thailand removed the plant from the Category 5 narcotics list, effectively decriminalizing weed in the country. Thai law dictates cannabis must be under 0.2 percent THC, but decriminalization gave unlicensed vendors the space to open up shop. What resulted was a new cannabis tourism hotspot that blew up so quickly that the government walked back the decision.

As the Thai election took place a year later, cleaning up the country’s cannabis problem was a prominent running point. The resulting winner, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, promised on X last week to make the plant illegal again by the end of the year. Medical cannabis would remain legal again. If recriminalized, it will be against the law to “produce, sell, import, export, or possess” cannabis. However, Thai cannabis business owners are not going down without a fight.

Thai cannabis protest: A man seen smoking a joint during the protest
BANGKOK, THAILAND – 2024/05/28: A man seen smoking a joint during the protest. Group of the cannabis activists and supporters gathered outside the United Nation building in Bangkok to protest against the possibility of re-criminalise of cannabis after cannabis in Thailand was decriminalised in 2022. Thailand government has planned to re-criminalise it by end of 2024. (Photo by Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) Photo: SOPA Images / Getty Images

Farmers, activists, and entrepreneurs gathered at the capitol in protest. All are against adding cannabis back to the scheduled narcotics list. Hundreds attended a rally in Bangkok this week to protest the change and collected signatures to file against Prime Minister Thavisin in administrative court. The crew filled out 2,000 entries, each listing the income they’d lose if the administration rescheduled the plant.

“If the government backed down, we wouldn’t need to file this petition. But we want to have this as an ammunition,” signature collector and cannabis business owner Jerawat Tanyaprirom said to The Business Times.

Prasitchai Nunuan served as a group representative during the rally, where advocates addressed Health Minister Somsak Thepsuthin. Nunuan explained that protesters agreed regulation was needed but urged the government to rethink rescheduling it as a narcotic.

Americans can put away their Thailand cannabis vacation mood boards for now as the country finds a new normal. While tourism is off the table, perhaps this display of nonviolent activism could urge the government to regulate rather than reschedule.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.