Thailand Considers Legislation to Restrict Recreational Cannabis Amid Industry Boom

In a notable policy shift, Thailand is contemplating new laws to curb the recreational use of cannabis, reversing its 2022 decision to decriminalise the plant. The draft bill, disclosed by the health ministry, aims to limit cannabis consumption to medical and health-related purposes. Proposed fines of up to 60,000 baht ($1,720) would be imposed for recreational use, signalling stricter penalties for sales.

Tourist Hubs and Business Districts Prompt Legislation in Response to the Cannabis Boom

Thailand witnessed a surge in cannabis-related businesses following the decriminalisation in June 2022. Concerns over the proliferation of shops and cafes, especially in tourist areas and business districts, prompted the current government to reevaluate cannabis policies. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, elected in May 2023, pledged to address the perceived addiction risks associated with marijuana use.

Challenges for Existing Cannabis Businesses

While the legislation does not reclassify cannabis as a narcotic, it proposes tightened licencing rules for cannabis-related activities. Existing businesses, from growers to dispensaries, may face significant penalties or closure without updated licences or permits. The proposed restrictions could pose challenges for Thailand’s budding cannabis industry.

Concerns Voiced by Cannabis Advocates

Cannabis advocates and entrepreneurs in Thailand have expressed concerns about the potential impact on the industry. Adjustments to comply with evolving regulations may be necessary for businesses to remain legal and operational. The draft legislation is open for public and industry feedback until January 23, allowing stakeholders to voice their opinions before the final proposal is submitted to the Cabinet and then Parliament for approval.

Uncertain Future for the Cannabis Industry in Thailand

As Thailand navigates the evolving landscape of cannabis regulation, the industry faces an uncertain future. The draft bill aims to strike a balance between decriminalisation and imposing restrictions, emphasising the need for public and industry input in shaping the final legislation.

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