Do You Truly Understand Thailand's New Marijuana Legalization Status?

14 Jun 2022

You've undoubtedly heard the big news already. Marijuana, cannabis, ganja, weed, grass, whatever you choose to call it, has been legalized in Thailand. 

The government removed cannabis and hemp plants from its narcotics list a few days ago (on June 9, 2022). The Public Health Ministry legalized all cannabis parts back in February after the Narcotics Code was modified  December 9, 2021, but the new regulation didn't take effect until June 9.

The plant can now be used as a cash crop for medical purposes. However, the law permits only low-potency marijuana. Extracts containing over  0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the plant's psychotropic component) are banned.

The bold move is part of an effort to capitalize on the growing demand for infused food and beverages and wellness treatments. 

People can grow cannabis for personal use and companies for food, cosmetics, and other products. First, however, growers must notify authorities and obtain a permit to cultivate the crop for commercial use. For personal use, growers just have to register on FDA's Plookganja app (FDA).

In addition, food and beverage companies must follow the Food Act when introducing cannabis. cannabis-based cosmetics must conform with the Cosmetics Act; manufacturers of cannabis-based medicines fall under the Medicine Act.

The government started distributing 1 million cannabis seeds to encourage growers on Friday, June 10, adding to the perception that Thailand is becoming a pot paradise.

 

Agricultural Tourism: A Boost for the Economy

Thailand has loosened its cannabis restrictions to stimulate the agriculture and tourism sectors. It envisions a boom in high-end cannabis tourism, with farms, spas and other cannabis-supporting businesses strengthening rural economies and the country's suffering (from the pandemic) economy overall. 

Carl K Linn, the author of a newsletter about cannabis in Thailand, sees foreign tourism potential in the delisting of cannabis. He said:

A lot of people come here to get their faces fixed with plastic surgery. A lot of people come to do dental work and oral surgery, and wellness retreats. Within that context, marijuana will integrate beautifully.

It became the first Southeast Asian country to legalize medical marijuana in 2018. Shocking as it is known for its strict no-drugs stance. Thailand has a long history of being an authoritarian country regarding drug crimes. Even cannabis, which the UN considers a "less dangerous drug," carried a 15-year prison sentence. However, the recent announcement that it will be delisted as a narcotic will surely shift how the drug is used and perceived within the country.

Indeed, as of 2018, the number of cafes and eateries selling cannabis-infused food and drinks has been rising. These companies were granted permission to sell hemp and CBD-infused products that don't get users high. CBD is the non-psychoactive compound of marijuana with therapeutic benefits. They are banking on the resurgence of international travellers for customers, whose numbers dropped precipitously during the pandemic but have begun to pick up again.

Many envision cannabis as a boost for the medical and wellness industry, luring "Silicon Valley types" on business trips. The country's vision is not to turn the nation into a "stoner paradise" but a high-end retreat destination - somewhere for the luxury-seekers to unwind and enhance their wellbeing.

For example, A Thai central hospital's spa restaurant is now serving marijuana. The Abhaibhubejhr Day Spa at the Chaophraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachin Buri serves patients dishes and drinks made with marijuana leaves.

Authorities are also considering a "cannabis sandbox" to allow tourists to use cannabis recreationally in specific regions. The aim would be to create centralized destinations synonymous with cannabis to contain its recreational use while supplementing the country's overall tourism industry.

 

Marijuana is Legal, but Smoking It is Not

After June 9, recreational cannabis use is still ambiguous. Thailand's government promotes cannabis for medical use but discourages smoking in public. Warnings have been made that doing so is considered a "smell nuisance" subjectable to a 25,000 baht ($780) fine and three-month imprisonment as a public nuisance charge under the Public Health Act. 

Thongchai Keeratihattayakorn, deputy permanent secretary of the public health ministry, told Thai media:

The department of health [will] issue an announcement determining that the smell and smoke from cannabis and hemp is a cause of nuisance under the Public Health Act.

Pol Gen Roy Inkhapairote, the Deputy National Police Chief in command of narcotics prevention and suppression, stated that smoking marijuana is no longer illegal if it doesn't disturb others.

He also said that possession of cannabis buds or plants is not illegal, no matter the amount. However, possession for personal use or commercial purposes of marijuana containing THC exceeding 0.2% by weight without approval from the Thai Food and Drug Administration, a permit or doctor's certificate is still illegal. In addition, possession of imported cannabis extracts is unlawful.

 

How the Law Revision Affected Those With Criminal Records from Cannabis

The removal of marijuana from Thailand's Category 5 narcotics list freed cannabis-related convicts and wiped their criminal records clean. Over  3,000 inmates were released on June 9, thanks to the decriminalization of cannabis. 

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin reported that 4,075 people were doing time for cannabis-related drug offences. Of these, 1,004 were also convicted of other charges and didn't benefit from the legislation reform; they must continue serving their other sentences. However, courts will amend their rulings to expunge the cannabis or hemp convictions.

Gloria Lai, the International Drug Policy Consortium's regional director for Asia, elaborated in an interview:

People facing cannabis-related charges will see them dropped, and money and cannabis seized from people charged with cannabis-related offences will be returned to their owners grounded in principles of human rights, health and development.

In addition, all pending cannabis or hemp cases with the court, prosecutors, or police must be dropped or dismissed.

 

Best Places to Find Cannabis on Koh Phangan and Surrounding Areas

Are you looking to take advantage of this new freedom but don't know where to find good cannabis products? If you live in Koh Phangan or plan to visit soon, check out the following locations for the best cannabis-infused goodies!

 

Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia's menu and items are delicious, and the staff is always delighted to see you. They bake daily with love and ganja, so everything is fresh and guaranteed to make you happy! 

 

Chanabis (Found Exclusively at Kali in Thong Sala)

Chanabis owners Minsida and John are enthusiastic about tea and changing how people view cannabis. They make calming CBD-infused teas, cannabis terpenes, and spa goods. 

 

Nira’s Bakery

Nira's Bakery and her family opened the island's first international and European bakery in 1985. Ever since, they've been serving the widest selection of cakes, pastries, breads, sandwiches, drinks, local handcrafted products, and now cannabis-infused baked goods. 

 

The Bud Lounge

The Bud Lounge offers medical cannabis cuisine & drinks sourced from local farmers, leading the Thai cannabis business.

 

KD Koh Phangan Cannabis & Herbs Club

The Cannabis Club organized a ganja fair the day marijuana became legal. It took place at Phangan Community Garden. Locals and foreigners celebrated pot independence with live music and cannabis booths.

 

Sri Thanu Food Market and Big C Market

Both locations have stalls selling cannabis products. At Big C, you'll find one outside the front entrance every day and also on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during their night market. At Sri Thanu's Food Market, it's the first stall on the left.

 

Koh Phangan Coconut Farmer Group

Koh Phangan Coconut Farmer Group sold cannabis-infused coconut oil at the Cannabis Club's fair.

 

Anantara Spa (Koh Samui)

Anantara Spa launched a cannabis-infused treatment menu. Anantara Spa harnesses cannabis for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving qualities. It offers new exquisite spa treatments that showcase the plant's many advantages, from soothing the mind to relieving pain.