Phuket, Thailand (photo by Sharon Hahn Darlin)
Historically, Thailand has had strict marijuana laws and stiff penalties for those busted for using or dealing. Now, residents and tourists can relax -- at least a little. As of June 10, 2022, Thailand will decriminalize cannabis but they'll stop short of full recreational legalization.
Instead, Thailand will legalize growing and trading cannabis and hemp. Medical patients will still be able to procure cannabis from their doctors, and chefs will be allowed to infuse food with limited amounts of cannabis, which seems to contradict the ban on recreational use, reports Bloomberg News
Here's what you need to know
Thailand is decriminalizing weed in an effort to boost the country's agricultural and tourism businesses. At the same time, they're potentially hamstringing themselves since products can only contain up to .2 percent THC. That's both a head-scratcher and a buzz-buster.
Still, it's a baby step in the right direction, coming from a conservative nation that has placed curbs on alcohol and still has strict policies on drug trafficking. And as significant as the decriminalization rule is, it's not Thailand's first move to capitalize on the tremendous financial potential of cannabis, which has rapidly blossomed into a $17.5 billion industry in the U.S. alone and has exponential growth potential worldwide. Back in 2018, Thailand legalized medical marijuana, but notregional growth of the plant.
What prompted the move to decriminalize cannabis?
The latest deregulations were endorsed by Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, a multi-millionaire businessman who wants to improve Thailand's agricultural and tourism economies through the controlled legalization of cannabis. Charnvirakul fronts the health ministry, and spoke on the campaign trail about helping farmers boost their incomes by legalizing household marijuana and hemp cultivation, reports Bloomberg.
What does this mean for locals and tourists?
Thailand's not gonna become the next Jamaica right away. But, legally speaking, cannabis cultivators will be able to legally use parts of the marijuana and hemp plants. And, individual farmers and companies will be able to grow cannabis at will.
Medical clinics can prescribe medical marijuana more easily and restaurants and individual chefs can cook and serve cannabis-infused foods and beverages that contain less than .2% THC. Keep in mind, .2% THC isn't much and anyone caught infusing food with more than that amount will be subject to long jail terms and heavy fines. Also, recreational use is still illegal and authorities can impose hefty penalties to those caught using.
Is Thailand on the verge of legalizing recreational cannabis?
It's unclear where Thailand goes from here. Numerous companies have expressed interest in entering the cannabis-infused food and beverage business and farmers are pleased to be able to grow marijuana without fear of repercussions. That said, full recreational use could still be years ago, reports Bloomberg. Weed advocates have requested permission to construct a mapped out area where recreational use would be allowed. The argument in favor of the limited use law is that it would create a tourism boon and, along with legalized casinos (another proposal under consideration) could mean billions of dollars a year from tourists. Supporters of the plan have suggested Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Samui as locations for the weed zone, reports Bloomberg, but Thailand's government has yet to comment on the idea.
About the Writer
Jon Wiederhorn is HiBnb's "Read Hi" Editor. He has written or co-written numerous books and worked on staff at Rolling Stone, MTV News, Radio.com, and Guitar magazine.