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Malaysia detains 3 Thais who tested positive for cannabis



Three Thais travelling to Malaysia for the long weekend were imprisoned for three days and fined the equivalent of 50,000 baht after they tested positive for cannabis, reported Amarin TV on Friday.

The tourists crossed over the border into Malaysia via the Wang Prachan checkpoint in Satun province and were asked to provide a urine sample on arrival in Weng Kelian in Malaysia. When traces of cannabis were found in their urine, the tourists were immediately detained. They were told that if they wanted to get out on bail, they would have to report to Malaysian authorities.

Cannabis was removed from Thailand’s list of illicit narcotics on June 9 but is still very much illegal in Malaysia, where possession of the plant carries a heavy penalty. When Thailand decriminalised marijuana, Malaysia made it clear that Malaysians travelling to Thailand were forbidden from smuggling the plant back into Malaysia in any form.

The Malaysian government also forbade Malaysians from consuming food or drinks which contained cannabis while travelling in Thailand, because it could stay in their system and they could be tested for the drug upon returning to Malaysia.

Thai tourism authorities recently expressed concerns that Thailand and Malaysia’s contrasting attitudes to marijuana could damage southern Thailand’s tourism industry. The tourism board found that Thailand’s liberal cannabis laws were off-putting to some potential Malaysian tourists. Some Malaysians were scared that even if they tried to avoid cannabis at all costs while travelling in Thailand, they may unknowingly consume the plant in food or drinks and be punished upon returning to Malaysia.

According to local sources, the Malaysian border force is meticulously checking bags, passports and cars for traces of cannabis.

Ensuring that arrivals in Malaysia are not smuggling an illicit drug into the country is one thing, but the requirement that anyone entering Malaysia cannot have traces of marijuana in their system is sure to cause a big problem between the bordering countries.

Marijuana is readily available around every corner in Thailand and very popular among the masses, as proven by the fact that over one million Thai people registered to grow cannabis at home.

So, if one million Thais are growing cannabis, many more can be assumed to be consuming it, as well as foreign tourists in Thailand. None of them are welcome to travel to Malaysia, and those who don’t catch wind of Malaysia’s strict anti-cannabis rules will be punished if traces of cannabis are found on their luggage, person or in their urine upon their arrival in Malaysia.

In general, Thailand’s legalisation of cannabis is thought to be a Western tourist magnet, helping Thailand’s tourism industry to somewhat recover post-pandemic. However, cannabis could severely dampen Malaysian-Thai travel if Malaysia continues to punish arrivals found with small traces of cannabis in their luggage or inside their body.



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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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