Confusion over cannabis laws, Thai officials consider decriminalisation

Thailand's Public Health Minister planting cannabis | Photo courtesy of Anutin Charnvirakul

Thai officials are looking into decriminalising cannabis… but not recreational use. The Thai Food and Drug Administration is set to meet with the Office of the Narcotics Control Board today and propose removing cannabis from a list of controlled drugs. Then, the measure will need to be approved by the Public Health Ministry, which is led by a cannabis advocate and leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, Anutin Charnvirakul.

Cannabis laws in Thailand have been confusing. Although Thailand has removed cannabis and hemp with low levels of the psychoactive component THC from its new narcotics code, the general public is still not allowed to grow cannabis at their home. Those who grow it without permission will still face legal consequences, people can still be jailed for up to 15 years in Thailand for possessing cannabis. One MP from the Bhumjaithai Party expressed worry over Thai authorities’ lack of clarity on the changes to the narcotics law.

Thailand’s Public Health Ministry still lists cannabis as a Category 5 narcotic. ONCB Secretary-General Wichai Chaimongkhon stated that not including cannabis in the new code is a way to prepare for removing it from the Catagory 5 list in the future. Currently, cannabis growers must obtain permission from the Public Health Ministry to grow the plant for medical or research purposes. Recreational use is still not permitted. Viroj Sumyai, former president of the International Narcotics Control Board, said if Thailand allowed recreational use it would no longer be allowed to import certain drugs they cover.

Source: Bangkok Post | Bloomberg

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