Cannabis flowers to become a “controlled herb” in Thailand

In response to public concern about recreational abuse of cannabis since its decriminalisation last week, Thailand’s Health Minister has signed a ministerial regulation to make cannabis flowers – the part of the plant with high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol – a “controlled herb.” The legislation specifies who is and isn’t allowed to access the THC-rich flowers. The legislation will come into effect once it is published in the Royal Gazette, according to Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

The legality of recreational use of cannabis in Thailand has been a major source of confusion since the plant was removed from Thailand’s list of Category 5 of narcotics on June 9. One thing is clear – extracts made from the plant can’t have a THC content of more than 0.2%. However, the flowers – or “buds” – are a bit more difficult to regulate.

Now that Thai people are legally allowed to grow cannabis at home, and the plant is not considered a drug, people want to know whether smoking cannabis is legal or not. Possession of any part of the cannabis plant is legal, but cannabis smoke is considered a “public nuisance.” Meaning, smoking cannabis in public is a criminal offence punishable by 3 months in prison and a fine of no more than 25,000 baht – if someone reports you for it.

However, if no one considers cannabis smoke to be causing public nuisance, then smoking the flowers in private spaces is not technically breaking the law. This little loophole might explain the deluge of marijuana “dispensaries” popping up all over Thailand since June 9, such as “Sukhumweed” on Sukhumvit Soi 42 in Bangkok, where you can simple walk in and buy cannabis flowers in all different flavours, with high-percentages of THC, as if you’re in Spain or California.

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The new legislation specifies that people who can access the “controlled herb” must be over 20 years old. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are barred from access to the herb and patients who get prescribed cannabis can possess the herb for no longer than 30 days.

The legislation is designed to ease concerns of the public, some of whom have expressed concerns about the effects of marijuana decriminalisation on Thailand’s youth. Today, Thai media reported that one parent is not happy after their 14 year old child ended up in hospital after using cannabis recreationally.

Classifying cannabis as a “controlled herb” is a just temporary measure to ease public concern over recreational cannabis abuse while the Cannabis and Hemp Bill goes through the motions in Parliament, after passing its first reading in the Lower House.

Thailand’s FDA reported that over 800,000 people have registered to grow cannabis on the Plook Ganja application and website since June 9. Foreigners are not allowed to cultivate cannabis, because registration requires a Thai ID number.


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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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