Thailand has legalized the trade and cultivation of marijuana; they are the only Southeast Asian nation to enact the reforms, according to reports from the Washington Post. Anutin Charnvirakul, Thailand’s Health Minister, said he wishes the move would improve the economy of the nation, especially the agricultural sector.
Earlier this year, Anutin authorized the removal of marijuana from the Thailand Narcotics List. Medical cannabis was legalized in Thailand in 2018. The health minister has stated that people making use of marijuana in unproductive ways, like consuming it in public, could still be subject to consequences, like a fine of up to 780 dollars and three months prison time. Officials aren’t pushing to make a tourism industry around marijuana.
When talking with CNN, Anutin said they have always given emphasis to the use of marijuana extracts and raw materials for health and medical benefits. He added that the thought of supporting individuals to use marijuana for recreational purposes under any circumstances has never crossed their minds.
The market value of marijuana-related firms is predicted to be more than $1 billion, as reported by the Thai Industrial Hemp Trade Association. By 2024, it is expected to have nearly doubled. The Thai FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has declassified cannabis and hemp as Category 5 narcotics, allowing eateries and cafés across the nation to serve marijuana-infused goods containing a maximum of 0.2 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main intoxicating ingredient in the plant.
Paisan Dankhum, a Health Ministry official, informed Reuters that almost 100,000 individuals have registered with the government to grow marijuana via the PlookGanja app. The Ministry of Health has said it authorized 1,181 marijuana-derived merchandise, including food and cosmetics, and it is expected that the industry will gain up to 15 billion baht (435.16 million dollars) by 2026.
THE RELAXING OF CANNABIS LAWS
Cannabis supporters say the easing actively decriminalizes cannabis; however, personal consumption for recreational purposes is still strongly discouraged by the government. People have likewise been cautioned against publicly smoking. Smoking outdoors is regarded as a public annoyance, and offenders could be arrested and fined, said the authorities. However, the government hopes that creating a local marijuana trade will improve tourism and agriculture
Minister Anutin, on his social media accounts last month, said this is a chance for individuals and the state to gain revenue from hemp and cannabis. On his Facebook, he shared a picture of a chicken dish prepared with marijuana, including that anybody could sell that type of dish provided they followed the guidelines, of which the primary one is that products must have lower than 0.2% of THC, the compound that produces the intoxicating feeling.
Having a tropical climate throughout the year, Thailand has had a long history with marijuana which a lot of the citizens normally use in making traditional drugs. Starting this month, households will be eligible to grow up to six marijuana pot plants in their home upon registering with the authorities, and firms as well can cultivate the plant with a license.
Customers will also be able to request marijuana-infused drinks and dishes in restaurants. Hospitals over the nation can also more willingly offer marijuana as a treatment. Thailand, back in 2018, became the first country in Asia to make the medical use of cannabis legal. Under the agenda, the government announces it also intends to free around 4,000 convicts found guilty of marijuana-related offenses.
A broader draft law on marijuana management is presently being evaluated in the Thai parliament. Supporters think that these next years could bring a gradual relaxing of the regulations governing the use.
Canada and Uruguay are the only two nations to have completely legalized the recreational use of cannabis. In 2018, the use and possession of marijuana became legal in Georgia. A Supreme Court verdict last year in Mexico could pave the way to legalization over there. And quite recently, in late 2021, recreational marijuana for personal use was legalized in Malta, making them the first country in the European Union to do so.
Still, some territories have gone in a different direction, like the Thai government, which is still adamant about the restrictions placed on the recreational use of cannabis, especially in public places. This week, the government of Hong Kong declared its plans to outlaw the export, import, manufacture, possession, and sale of products that contain CBD, a chemical obtained from cannabis that does not induce intoxication and is sold to handle sleeplessness and anxiety.
THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION
There tends to be confusion about the situation in Thailand. Has cannabis been legalized or not?. As the Thai tourist economy comes out from its lengthy Covid nap, a lot of travelers will wonder if the recent liberal administration governing marijuana means that they can smoke a joint anywhere and anytime they want.
The government’s response is no, you cannot smoke cannabis in public, and extracts containing more than 0.2 percent of the key psychoactive ingredient THC are still unlawful to sell or distribute.
According to an analysis by Johnathan Head from BBC News, the official aim is for the nation to get an edge over its neighbors in gaining a large piece of the profitable market for health therapies making use of marijuana derivatives, especially the less severe compound CBD. However, there is an alternative motive, which is to decrease overcrowding in a few of the most overcrowded jails in the world.
All this, in theory, means that with the growth of the plant now totally legal, the law enforcement agencies are now unlikely to apprehend people just for marijuana possession. The government claims that manufacture and consumption are only allowed for medical purposes and no form of recreational use, but in practice, the border between the two has already blurred.
The Thai government being the first to legalize cannabis for any purpose in a region known for very strict drug ordinances, is trying to maintain their firmness on the use of the plant recreationally while attempting to gain the benefits of the plant in the medical sector and gaining an economic edge over its neighboring nations.