Thailand is introducing a new bill aimed at ban of the cannabis industry after a previous attempt failed to gain parliamentary support. The proposed legislation seeks to ban the recreational use of cannabis, limiting its use solely for medical and health purposes. This move follows Thailand’s pioneering step in decriminalizing cannabis in 2022, making it the first Asian country to do so.
Under the draft bill published by the Health Ministry, individuals caught smoking cannabis recreationally could face fines of up to 60,000 baht ($1,720). Those involved in selling cannabis or its extracts for recreational purposes may be subjected to one year in jail, fines of up to 100,000 baht, or both.
The proposed rules also prohibit advertising or marketing campaigns for cannabis products and devices used for smoking. Driving under the influence of cannabis could result in fines of up to 20,000 baht or a one-year jail term.
Thailand’s cannabis industry has been operating in a legal gray area since decriminalization, leading to the proliferation of numerous dispensaries across the country. The government aims to address this regulatory vacuum by tightening licensing rules for cannabis cultivation, sales, exports, and imports.
Growers will need to apply for a license within 60 days under the new rules, while existing dispensaries can continue operating before renewing their permits.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, fulfilling an election pledge, is concerned about potential addiction issues and aims to restrict cannabis use to medical purposes. The bill aims to end the uncertainties surrounding cannabis regulation and establish a framework for the industry.
However, the government has not proposed reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic, which would involve more severe penalties.
The public and industry stakeholders have until January 23 to provide feedback on the bill. The Health Ministry may make adjustments before submitting it to the cabinet for approval and subsequent consideration by parliament.
The proposed legislation reflects Thailand efforts to bring clarity to the legal status of cannabis ban while addressing public health and safety concerns.