Thailand legalizes the trade of marijuana but discourages personal use

People in Thailand can now grow cannabis plants at home and sell the plants after the country removed cannabis from its list of banned narcotics.

The country is the first to advance such measures in Southeast Asia, a region known for its strict drug laws.

Advocates say the relaxation effectively decriminalizes cannabis, but personal use for non-medical reasons is still strongly discouraged by the government.

Officials have also warned people not to smoke in public.

Smoking outside is seen as a public nuisance and offenders risk fines and arrest, authorities said.

But the government hopes that developing the local cannabis trade will boost agriculture and tourism.

It even gave one million cannabis seedlings to the people to encourage consumption.

“It is an opportunity for the people and the state to earn from cannabis and hemp,” said Anutin Charnvirakul, deputy prime minister and health minister, on his social media account last month.

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He shared a photo on Facebook of a chicken dish cooked with marijuana, adding that anyone can sell the dish if they follow the rules – the main one is that the product must contain less than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a compound that gives users a “high” feeling. that.

From Thursday, households will be able to grow up to six cannabis plants at home if they register with the authorities, and companies can also cultivate the plant with a permit.

Visitors can also order cannabis-infused dishes and drinks at the restaurant.

Clinics across the country can also offer cannabis as a treatment more freely. Thailand was the first in Asia to legalize the use of medical marijuana in 2018.

However, using the drug for personal use is still illegal. Officials have warned people not to smoke in public, saying it is considered a public nuisance and offenders risk arrest.

Under the plan, the government said it also aims to release about 4,000 prisoners convicted of cannabis-related offences.

Thailand, with its year-round tropical climate, has a long history with cannabis that is commonly used by many locals in traditional medicine.

A broader draft law on cannabis control is being considered in the Thai parliament. Advocates believe that the coming years could see a gradual relaxation of the rules governing use.

So is it legal or not? As Thailand’s tourist economy recovers from a long Covid hibernation, many visitors will be wondering if the new liberal regime that controls cannabis means they can light up a joint wherever and whenever they like.

The answer from the government is no, you cannot smoke weed in public, and it is still illegal to sell or supply any extract containing more than 0.2% of the main hallucinogenic compound THC.

The official goal is for Thailand to get a head start on its neighbors in winning a large share of the lucrative market for health treatments using cannabis derivatives, particularly the milder compound CBD. But there is another motive; to reduce overcrowding in some of the world’s most overcrowded prisons.

This means that, in theory, with the cultivation of the plant in any quantity now fully legalized, the police are now unlikely to arrest people simply for possessing cannabis.

There are already hundreds of businesses in Thailand, operating even before the new law, offering a range of cannabis products, such as restaurants that put the leaf in Thai curries. It is difficult to see how the authorities can control the amount of THC it contains.

Governments insist they allow production and use solely for medicinal purposes, not recreational purposes, but in practice, the line is blurred.

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