Thailand warns against public cannabis use, imposes fines and jail time

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The Department of Health (DOH) under the Ministry of Public Health has issued a stern warning to the public about the legal ramifications of smoking cannabis in public spaces. The DOH has also notified local authorities to prepare for stricter enforcement against unsubstantiated casual events. Additionally, the public is encouraged to report any nuisance incidents to local officials immediately.

Dr. Atthapol Kaewsamrit, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Health, mentioned that April 20th marks World Marijuana Day. Consequently, the Department emphatically reminds both citizens and business owners alike to exercise caution and avoid engaging in activities that might breach the law. The concern is that there might be copycat events emulating international gatherings, where cannabis consumption is strictly permitted for medicinal purposes and controlled environments.

Moreover, smoking cannabis creates an odour and smoke is considered a nuisance under the Ministry of Public Health’s announcement, in effect since June 15, 2565. Guidelines on controlling such nuisances were also provided by the Ministry on June 9, 2565. Local officials, public health officers, or those appointed by local authorities have the responsibility and authority to supervise and control activities that may generate cannabis smoke or odour.

In the event of identifying a nuisance, the responsible officials have the right to investigate the matter. If proven or backed by witness testimony, further inquiry into the situation, persons at fault, complainants, and nearby individuals take place. Officials must then record statements as evidence. Consequently, the officials have the authority to instruct relevant parties to cease or prevent further nuisances within a reasonable timeframe.

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Should the responsible party fail to adhere to the recommendations, local officials will issue a written directive by exercising their power under Section 27 (in cases involving public places or roads) or Section 28 (in cases involving private properties) of the Public Health Act B.E. 2535 and its amendments. Parties must then make necessary adjustments or cease the aforementioned nuisances within a reasonable timeframe or face potential fines and legal actions.

In the event of non-compliance with directives, local officials may take legal action under the Public Health Act. Penalties include imprisonment for up to 3 months or a fine not exceeding THB 25,000, or both.

So, for all those who may be feeling a little too relaxed or celebratory, keep in mind that Thai authorities will not be amused. Better to be safe and mindful than sorry and, well, fined.

Read: Cannabis in Thailand: A Guide for Tourists

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Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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