The Thai government has announced it will ban the recreational use of cannabis through a new version of the cannabis and hemp control bill Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said on Tuesday.
Thailand decriminalised cannabis in 2022 under the Bhumjaithai party, leading to a wave of thousands of dispensaries opening across the country. Initially, the move to decriminalise cannabis was to open up access to patients, however in lieu of clearer regulation, an unlicensed recreational industry has quickly blossomed across the country.
“The new bill will be amended from the existing one to only allow the use of cannabis for health and medicinal purposes,” Chonlanan Srikaew told reporters.
“The use for fun is considered wrong.”
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who took office last August, has frequently voiced opposition to the recreational use of the drug and said it should only be allowed for medicinal use.
Under the new bill, the stem, roots, leaves and buds of the cannabis plant would be recategorised as a narcotic because of their tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. Smoking cannabis is expected to require a permit from a doctor, with clear guidelines on how the plant can be used for medical treatment.
Stricter guidelines on the growing and production of cannabis in the country are also anticipated, with producers having to apply for permits and adhere to strict controls over growing conditions to ensure cannabis is considered medical grade.
The government has yet to clarify what will happen to the thousands of businesses that have opened since cannabis was removed from the controlled narcotics listing in 2022. According to listing website weed.th, there are now over 6,500 cannabis stores across the Kingdom, with many selling a combination of medical and recreational cannabis.