Thailand becomes first Asian country to legalise marijuana; releases prisoners

Thailand’s public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul

Thailand officially legalised the growing of marijuana and its consumption in food and drinks on June 9, the first Asian country to do so, with the aim of boosting its agriculture and tourism sectors, but smoking weed is still against the law.

The new legislation allows people to grow the plant at home and commercially as Thailand’s government is keen to promote marijuana as a cash crop. However, while the change is aimed at allowing cannabis in traditional medicine and cooking, recreational use remains a grey area.

It’s a major policy shift in a country long known for its harsh drug controls, but the Thai government hopes the law change will boost the wellness and tourism industries.

Cannabis prisoners to be released

In January this year, Thai authorities announced they were dropping cannabis from the official list of controlled substances, resulting in what some have described as de facto decriminalisation. Some 4,000 prisoners serving jail time for cannabis-related crimes will soon be released and their criminal records for those offences will be deleted, the country’s Department of Corrections said.

Thailand’s public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul last month took to Facebook to declare his intention to give away one million cannabis plants to members of the public.

“It is an opportunity for people and the state to earn income from marijuana and hemp,” he wrote, alongside a photo of cooked chicken seasoned with cannabis.

Six pots per family

Anutin, who first announced the new policy in 2021, said at the time that families would be allowed to grow up to six cannabis pot plants, with the view of them supplying the crop to public hospitals and research facilities or for use in the production of food or cosmetics.

Anutin said the policy was focused on “health and medical use, not on entertainment”. He emphasised that unlike alcohol and cigarettes, cannabis had benefits if “used wisely”, and the law change was not aimed at allowing it to be used for intoxication.

Still penalties for recreational use

Penalties for creating “public nuisance” from recreational use of cannabis would still apply, he said, noting that offenders reported to authorities could face up to three months’ jail or fines of up to 25,000 baht.

Under the law, any cannabis extract must have a concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol – the main psychoactive component of marijuana – of less than 0.2 per cent.

A comprehensive law for regulating cannabis is yet to pass parliament.

Globally, recreational use of cannabis is legal in some US states, in Canada, Uruguay, South Africa, Mexico, Georgia, Malta and in the Australian Capital Territory.



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[caption id="attachment_38523" align="alignleft" width="300"] Thailand's public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul[/caption] Thailand officially legalised the growing of marijuana and its consumption in food and drinks on June 9, the first Asian country to do so, with the aim of boosting its agriculture and tourism sectors, but smoking weed is still against the law. The new legislation allows people to grow the plant at home and commercially as Thailand’s government is keen to promote marijuana as a cash crop. However, while the change is aimed at allowing cannabis in traditional medicine and cooking, recreational use remains a grey area. It's a major...

Thailand’s public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul

Thailand officially legalised the growing of marijuana and its consumption in food and drinks on June 9, the first Asian country to do so, with the aim of boosting its agriculture and tourism sectors, but smoking weed is still against the law.

The new legislation allows people to grow the plant at home and commercially as Thailand’s government is keen to promote marijuana as a cash crop. However, while the change is aimed at allowing cannabis in traditional medicine and cooking, recreational use remains a grey area.

It’s a major policy shift in a country long known for its harsh drug controls, but the Thai government hopes the law change will boost the wellness and tourism industries.

Cannabis prisoners to be released

In January this year, Thai authorities announced they were dropping cannabis from the official list of controlled substances, resulting in what some have described as de facto decriminalisation. Some 4,000 prisoners serving jail time for cannabis-related crimes will soon be released and their criminal records for those offences will be deleted, the country’s Department of Corrections said.

Thailand’s public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul last month took to Facebook to declare his intention to give away one million cannabis plants to members of the public.

“It is an opportunity for people and the state to earn income from marijuana and hemp,” he wrote, alongside a photo of cooked chicken seasoned with cannabis.

Six pots per family

Anutin, who first announced the new policy in 2021, said at the time that families would be allowed to grow up to six cannabis pot plants, with the view of them supplying the crop to public hospitals and research facilities or for use in the production of food or cosmetics.

Anutin said the policy was focused on “health and medical use, not on entertainment”. He emphasised that unlike alcohol and cigarettes, cannabis had benefits if “used wisely”, and the law change was not aimed at allowing it to be used for intoxication.

Still penalties for recreational use

Penalties for creating “public nuisance” from recreational use of cannabis would still apply, he said, noting that offenders reported to authorities could face up to three months’ jail or fines of up to 25,000 baht.

Under the law, any cannabis extract must have a concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol – the main psychoactive component of marijuana – of less than 0.2 per cent.

A comprehensive law for regulating cannabis is yet to pass parliament.

Globally, recreational use of cannabis is legal in some US states, in Canada, Uruguay, South Africa, Mexico, Georgia, Malta and in the Australian Capital Territory.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

 

 

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