Sunday 4 February 2024

Marijuana Law in Thailand - What is the effect of Legal Weed legalization in Thailand?

A move years in the making and a rarity in a region where marijuana possession, consumption, and trafficking are punishable by long jail terms and even death sentences, Thailand became the first Asian country to decriminalize cannabis in June 2022.

Despite Thailand's legalization of medical marijuana in 2018, decriminalization took it a step further. This made it no longer a crime to grow, trade, or use marijuana or hemp products for medical purposes. The law is flexible from region to region, but ultimately allows people to grow and trade marijuana openly.

Thailand has seen the opening of thousands of cannabis dispensaries since then. In addition, it has seen the opening of cannabis-themed businesses such as weed cafes, hemp spas, and beauty treatments. Decriminalization of marijuana has been a major draw for tourists in cities like Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

However, Anutin Charnvirakul, former Thai health minister and strong advocate of cannabis legalization, has said that Thais and tourists would never be able to smoke marijuana recreationally. The declassification of the law was always meant to promote marijuana's medical side and never intended to create the recreational boom that has been seen.

Using cannabis raw materials and extractions for medical purposes and for health has always been the priority.

Asia typically is a place that sees extreme punishments handed out to those engaged in drug related crimes. In neighbouring countries even CBD is illegal and drug trafficking remains punishable by the death sentence. Surely there should be a little more consensus that marijuana should not be in the same drug classes and treated independently by now. I think this was the hope people in Thailand thought the government was finally seeing. This type of lead on drug laws is far forward thinking and a positive more in many opinions of the people.

Across Thailand it is very clear that the marijuana boom has helped many Thais, including farmers, small business owners, and counter workers. Is it a coincidence that just before the boom most shops sat empty after the pandemic? Things were looking quite grim and the property market was sitting idle and lacking momentum. Once the cannabis rush hit all the empty shops were filled and the property market bounced back, seeing a new sense of faith and a most certain up trend in property purchases.

Personal belief is that if all the dispensaries were forced to close, it could spark a major reversal in this property market trend. Many people would lose their jobs and uncertainty would return.

Former cannabis entrepreneurs say they were strongly against legalizing a business that grew by billions of dollars. As a cannabis entrepreneur based in Bangkok, Kitty Chopaka has advocated marijuana legalization for years, calling government policy a knee-jerk reaction.

It is too late for cannabis to be reclassified as a narcotic, no matter what happens with the upcoming cannabis regulations." A common quote that 'the cat is out of the bag' seems to keep popping up. It seems now there is way too much support for legal marijuana as it stands. The positive gains compared with the damage caused are far outweighing the negatives.

After decriminalizing marijuana nearly 2 years ago, Thailand's newly elected government is moving ahead with a bill banning the plant for recreational use. After so much time with legal marijuana, surely they can clearly see the positive impact outweighing the negative.

In the Southeast Asian nation, a relaxed cannabis law led to a lucrative cannabis industry catering to locals and foreigners alike, but a conservative coalition government has tightened the rules by allowing only medical marijuana.

It is believed by many in the cannabis industry that even a new bill of law will not lead to major changes. There is a certain amount of flexibility of the law in different regions which is allowing many in the industry to do what they like.

Thai's health ministry has released a draft bill outlining hefty fines or prison sentences for offenders, or even both. How this law will be received and if they manage to pass it through parliament with approval is a big question.

As stated in September, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's new government will "rectify" cannabis laws within six months by limiting the use of cannabis and cannabis-related products to medical purposes only. There has been mention of the new law coming into affect around March to April 2024.

Despite the relaxed laws, marijuana smoking remains illegal in public, but the new laws will prohibit cannabis advertisements and marketing campaigns.

A draft bill that had been submitted to parliament in November failed to be approved and many feel that this new draft will meet with the same level of dissatisfaction.

According to Thavisin, drug abuse is a "big problem for Thailand." He has been vocal about banning recreational cannabis. Realistically if marijuana is a big problem when its legal, this will be an even bigger problem if its classified to be illegal. Its quite a shame that a forward thinking decision like this is now seeing an attempt at reversal.

Cholnan Srikaew, the health minister, drafted the law to prevent the misuse of cannabis, but in the real world actually it seems the intent will lead to worser problems. Surely in a legal, but controlled environment there will be less misuse. Money saved from policing if better used can help to provide care for those that could be in a position of harm or misuse. The damage caused in illegal cases are much worse as this leads to prison sentences, illegal drug trade and unregulated potentially more dangerous usage.

The new proposal has been referred to Thailand's Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew for further comment. The department of traditional and alternative medicine has invited public feedback on the latest draft. The information will be reviewed and hopefully, will aid in the final enactment of the Cannabis and Hemp Act.

We welcome comments on this topic and public opinion that matters most.

Caught Growing Cannabis in the UK (updated Law)

Caught growing cannabis (UK guide)

New updated sentencing guidelines as of December 2022

The government updated the sentencing guidelines for getting caught cultivating cannabis in the UK in April 2021. Some things have changed very slightly so if you have been caught growing cannabis in the UK, please read this guide before going to court so you know what to expect.

This guide is based on the actual sentencing guide the judge in court will be referring to when deciding what your punishment will be.

Find the actual UK sentencing guidelines by following this link Production of a controlled drug/ Cultivation of cannabis plant – Sentencing (