All you need to know about the current cannabis situation in Thailand
It has been over two months since Thailand legalized the cultivation and sale of cannabis for medical purposes. But there are still a lot of confusion on what you can and cannot do. Here we will explain to you what is the current cannabis situation in Thailand, but do keep in mind, the law and the reality of things in Thailand can be different.
What does decriminalizing cannabis in Thailand entails?
On June 9th, Thailand became the first country in SE Asia to decriminalize cannabis, removing the plant from its category five narcotics list by publishing an announcement in the Royal Gazette.
But in theory, he tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound that creates the psychoactive effect in cannabis must be less than 0.2% if used in medicine or food. A higher percentage of cannabis and hemp extracts is still illegal. Household are able to cultivate plants at home with registration on the designated application, and companies can also farm the plant with a permit.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul stressed that decriminalizing cannabis aims to promote three areas: highlighting the medical benefits, serving as an alternative treatment for patients, and supporting a cannabis economy by pushing cannabis and hemp to be cash crops. He estimated the cannabis industry could be worth more than US$ 3 billion within five years.
What actually happened after Thailand legalized cannabis?
In reality, the grey legal area made it possible for people to have easy access to cannabis products such as drinking water, food, sweets, and cookies. Many products contain more than 0.2% of THC.
From Khao San road to Samui, many vendors set up shops to sell cannabis and cannabis-infused products. Restaurants advertise and serve dishes that contain cannabis among their ingredients. People, including tourists, have been seen smoking joints despite a law forbidding smoking cannabis in public as it considers it to be a nuisance.
According to the health minister, 60 people suffered from the acute side effects of cannabis over the past two months (from June 6 to Aug 16). The figure meant that one person suffered from the acute effects per day and it showed no significant impacts compared with the Thai population of 70 million.
What are the current control measures being in place?
Public health minister Anutin signed several regulations prohibiting people under the age of 20, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers from possessing and using cannabis, unless they have a doctor’s permission.
Recently, a new bill outlines limits on cannabis use. Key details include:
No more than 15 cannabis plants for household. People can register within one day without paying any registration fees.
Other groups that will be allowed to register for growing cannabis include hospitals, medical practitioners, dental practitioners, Thai traditional medicine practitioners, applied Thai traditional medicine practitioners, traditional medicine practitioners, state agencies, the Thai red cross society, and animal hospitals. They can make medicines from plants for patients without seeking permission.
People are allowed to grow no more than five rai of hemp plants per household for household use.
Selling and advertising cannabis and cannabis-based products online and in vending machines will be prohibited.
For business and commercial purposes, those who grow, process and extract the plants for sale must seek permission for authorities.
Small scale business who can grow no more than 5 rai of cannabis, if they fail to seek permission, they are liable to a jail term of no more than one year and/or a fine up to 100,00 baht.
Large scale operators who grow more than 5 rai, if fail to seek permission, will face jail term of no more than three years and/or fine up to 300,000 baht.
Exporting cannabis without permission would be liable to up to five years jail term and/or 500,000 baht.
Meanwhile, those who want to grow cannabis for commercial purposes must be Thai nationals aged at least 20 years while legal entities that want to grow cannabis for commercial purposes must be owned and operated by Thais.
The bill prohibits online advertising for the sale of cannabis flowering buds, cannabis hashish, cannabis extracts and equipment used for smoking cannabis.Violators would be liable to a jail term of no more than one year and/or a fine of up to 100,000 baht. The bill also bans exaggeration or false advertising of other parts of the cannabis plant used as herbs, and violators would face a jail term.
Under the bill, the sale of cannabis would be prohibited in temples, religious premises, schools and educational institutes, dormitories, public parks and other premises.
The bill also declares certain premises off-limits to cannabis smoking, including temples, public parks and restaurants.
What should one know before leaving Thailand with cannabis?
The Chinese Embassy warned of grave consequences if its citizens brought cannabis home in both physical forms and residue.
“Article 357 of the ‘Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China’ clearly stipulates that cannabis is a drug, and it is illegal to cultivate, possess, and consume cannabis in China. Tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] belongs to the first category of psychoactive drugs under control in China, namely drugs, and various products containing tetrahydrocannabinol are not allowed to be brought into China. It is a criminal offence to carry cannabis or cannabis products into China,” the announcement reads on the embassy’s website.
The announcement added that Chinese citizens smoking cannabis or consuming food and beverages containing cannabis in Thailand will have traces in biological samples such as urine, blood, saliva and hair. This means that if for some reason Chinese citizens who smoked in Thailand later get drug tested in China when returning home, they could face legal trouble and will be punished accordingly as they will be deemed to have abused an illegal narcotic drug.
Meanwhile, Thai embassies in many countries such as Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and Indonesia issued warnings that bringing cannabis and cannabis-based products into the country could result in severe penalties such as stiff jail terms, deportation and the likelihood of being barred for future entry.
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