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New bill under review to ban recreational use of cannabis in Thailand

Promises to include public discussion were not adhered to for drafting the new bill

  • Arun Ramanathan
  • 9 January 2024
New bill under review to ban recreational use of cannabis in Thailand

The new Thai government has introduced a bill to amend the current cannabis legislation to ban the recreational use of cannabis.

Since the 2023 Thai general election, the new government has taken office with a strong stance against recreational cannabis use. The newly elected officials have pledged to revise the existing cannabis policy.

Initially, cannabis was decriminalised for personal use, with its cultivation primarily intended for industrial purposes. Due to the lack of regulations, the recreational cannabis industry flourished without sufficient oversight or control. This not only affected domestic consumption but also led to the emergence of cannabis tourism, attracting visitors from around the globe to partake in the country's laidback cannabis laws.

Read this next: Thailand's new Prime Minister aims to end recreational cannabis

As reported by local media outlets, Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew signed a bill last weekend to amend the current cannabis legislation, gunning for the ban of recreational use. With the proposed control bill, the extent of restrictions on recreational cannabis consumption remains uncertain, as does the possibility of additional unfavourable amendments to the legislation.

Former Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who played a key role in the decriminalisation of cannabis, may exert pressure to limit the restrictions on recreational cannabis use.

In fact, in May, Charnvirakul proposed the distribution of one million cannabis plants with a THC level below 0.2% to households nationwide strictly for medical purposes. His influence could potentially sway the decision and prevent a tightening of current cannabis regulations.

Read this next: Thailand legalises cannabis, but its funky fumes may breach regulations

As reported by Bangkok Post, Prasitchai Nunual, Secretary-General of Thailand's Cannabis Future Network, has said that the current minister failed to keep his promise that the draft would be shared for public discussion from the interested parties and stakeholders before it was passed on to the cabinet.

Mr Prasitchai has implored the Public Health Ministry to have a clearer understanding of cannabis, methamphetamine and alcohol, so a better regulatory framework can be drawn up.

"Methamphetamine has ruined people's lives, but people can possess it. Drinking is [indirectly] promoted by extending the operating hours of entertainment venues. If the ministry's policy is dictated by political interests instead of facts, we will take further steps," he said.

Read this next: Hong Kong criminalises CBD in the same class as fentanyl, heroin & cocaine

As the debate surrounding recreational cannabis unfolds, experts, advocates, and stakeholders eagerly await cabinet approval before submission to the House of Representatives for consideration.

[Via: Bangkok Post, Forbes]

Arun Ramanathan is Mixmag Asia’s Director. Follow him on Instagram.

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