In the battle to regulate cannabis after its decriminalisation, street stalls in Pattaya may be the next to fall. Police are warning market and street vendors that they cannot sell cannabis products without a license. The catch is, licenses can only be obtained for businesses with a legal address, which pop-up stalls do not have.
Last night, The Pattaya News reported that police made the rounds warning street vendors that they will have to leave Pattaya Walking Street if they cannot produce a valid license. The Pattaya Police chief explained that cannabis is a controlled substance and sales can only be carried out by properly licensed vendors.
When cannabis was legalised in June, very few rules and regulations or enacted along with that legalisation. Government advocates for legal marijuana, like Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul and his Bhumjaithai Party, claim they intended it only for medicinal cannabis.
Now pro- and anti-cannabis factions in the government are in a policy tug-of-war. Both sides seem to agree that regulation is necessary, but one is calling for tightened regulations while the other wants to just make it an illegal drug again.
Enthusiastic and entrepreneurial small business makers are left in the lurch as the laws are proposed, shot down, retooled, and debated for months. A million people are licensed to grow, harvest, sell, and consume cannabis before most regulation was put into place. Many have gone all-in on smoke shops and stands selling a huge variety of cannabis-infused products. After investing so much, when the government finally does settle on a policy, it will undoubtedly harm some, if not all, of these small businesses.
Restrictions have recently been tightened, banning vending machines, commercial advertising, and online sales. License checks and informational outreach have been ongoing from authorities. A recent ban on smoking inside businesses, hotels, and other semi-public areas has led many shops to create separate smoking rooms.
For now, street stalls, such as those on Pattaya Walking Street, may be driven out of business, unable to obtain a proper license to sell the newly legalised cannabis products.