Thailand reining in cannabis legalization, focusing on medical and research
One year after Thailand legalized cannabis, there’s a new party in town. Newly appointed Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin declared that he only believed in the medical use of cannabis in an interview with The Standard.
“Cannabis will be – double underline – for medical purposes and research,” said Saritpong Kiewkong of the Bhumjaithai party. “There is no policy for recreational use,” the lawmaker told reporters in parliament, adding that such measures were not yet being considered.
The Bhumjaithai party was a leader in the legalization of the plant; now this party and the Prime Minister’s Pheu Thai Party agree that a medical-only policy is the right way forward for the country. This approach differs from the government passing out cannabis plants to constituents last summer.
Cannabis was legalized in Thailand in 2018, with dispensaries opening up around 2022. Public consumption is punishable by a fine, but the latest cannabis law to be drafted sets stronger laws against smoking in public. The update aims to keep children away from the rapidly developing Thai cannabis tourism industry.
The argument for medical cannabis
A cross-sectional study conducted using surveys taken at the end of each year showed that cannabis use in Thailand has grown since legalization. Consumption of methamphetamine, alcohol, and tobacco decreased.
The study also highlighted a higher number of 18 to 19-year-olds consuming, concluding that “Thai youth had a growing trend to smoke cannabis.” Youth consumption is the main cited concern among lawmakers seeking to make the plant less accessible.
The proposed overarching cannabis law creates permitting guidelines on the cultivation, sales, and distribution of cannabis. It also updates language to keep the plant separate from temples, schools, and amusement parks.
This move doesn’t come as a surprise to those who followed the Thai election. Even the PM candidate who voted in a cannabis leaf shirt spoke about tighter restrictions on adult-use consumption during the election.
Cannabis lovers traveling in Thailand should get their fill now before the new policy is voted into law. Though the beaches of Pa Tong might keep the party going it’s likely cannabis won’t be a part of it soon.