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Thailand Moves to Ban Recreational Use of Cannabis in Setback for Nascent Industry

  • New bill seeks to end recreational use; plug legal vacuum

  • Thailand became first in Asia to legalize cannabis in 2022





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Thailand is proposing a ban on recreational use of cannabis and hefty penalties on offenders under a new bill that seeks to end a legal vacuum after the country became first in Asia to decriminalize the plant.


Smoking of marijuana and its use in any other forms for recreation will be banned under the draft bill that was published by Thailand’s Health Ministry on Tuesday. The use of the cannabis plant or its products will be limited for medical and health purposes, according to the bill.


The draft legislation, re-written by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s new government, is in line with his party’s pre-election pledge to restrict the use of marijuana to medical purposes due to concerns over addiction. Anyone who smokes cannabis for recreation will face a fine of up to 60,000 baht ($1,720).


The bill also seeks to prohibit sales of cannabis or its extracts for recreational purposes. Anyone found in violation of the new rule will face a maximum of one year in jail or 100,000 baht ($2,866) in fines, or both.


The new government is seeking to end an ongoing regulatory vacuum following the landmark declassification of marijuana as a narcotic in 2022, which has led to the mushrooming of more than 6,000 dispensaries all over the country. They sell everything from cannabis buds to oil extracts containing less than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol — the psychoactive compound that gives users a “high” sensation.


But the government doesn’t propose to reclassify the plant as a narcotic again, a move that would have entailed longer jail terms and fines.


The cannabis industry stakeholders and public have until Jan. 23 to submit feedback on the bill.

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