Thai Cannabis Crackdown: Health Minister’s new law targets recreational use and challenges Bhumjaithai’s legacy. Minister Cholnan unveils strict cannabis law, eliminating recreational use. The current liberal order faces risk as seizures in Ireland complicate the discussion and re-introduce Thailand’s international obligations.
The writing in a proposed new law is very clear about the future of recreational cannabis use in Thailand. Certainly, after Minister of Public Health Mr Cholnan Srikaew, on Sunday, unveiled his new draft legislation, the future of marijuana or pot outlets which have become ubiquitous in Thailand, are now verily in doubt. The law provides the mechanism to outlaw the sale of parts of the cannabis plant which have a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) value in excess of 0.2%. Moreover, the legal provision even calls for review and research on the efficacy of the ongoing use of cannabis for medical purposes. At the same time, the latter will, when the law is passed, become the only basis by which it can be legally used in Thailand.
The fears of the cannabis industry have been realised. Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew has officially signed a bill aimed at reinforcing stringent regulations on the drug.
Explicitly, the new provision prohibits recreational use in Thailand. The legislation, once approved, will mandate cannabis use solely for medical purposes, promoting its application for various health benefits.
Minister Cholnan’s bold law bans recreational use – A tighter law, clear measures, and stricter regulations unveiled. Buds, parts with high THC, outlawed
At length, Minister Cholnan outlined the government’s commitment to controlling and preventing recreational cannabis use through clear measures. Afterwards, these are expected to be implemented via ministerial regulation or a designated panel.
The proposed law awaits cabinet approval before submission to the House of Representatives for consideration.
As Thailand tightens its cannabis rules, concerns arise over conflicting regulations with the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department. Its powers were enhanced under former Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul who pioneered the legalisation of pot in Thailand
Additionally, questions linger about whether buying cannabis will require a medical certificate. Minister Cholnan underlines that cannabis stores must strictly comply with the forthcoming law.
It also specifies that such outlets can sell only legally permissible parts of the cannabis plant. Certainly, this excludes buds of the plant because of their potent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) value.
Thai THC tango: New legislation restricts cannabis THC to 0.2% as specified before. It is all a far cry from current recreational norms here and US weed
The legislation, when enacted, aims to assist law enforcement in prosecuting any person misusing cannabis for recreational purposes.
Thailand’s groundbreaking legislation limited the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) of any legal cannabis product to a 0.2% THC value.
However, legal cannabis sold in the United States for recreational use has at least a 4% THC value while 12% is quite normal. Some potent cannabis sold in Thailand’s bustling outlets since the substance was legalised have far higher THC values. For instance, ‘buds’ can achieve a THC of 25%.
The new legislation being promoted by Mr Cholnan will provide a firm basis for police action.
In June 2022, the Royal Thai Police withdrew from widely prosecuting cannabis offences on the basis that the legal basis had disappeared.
This happened when the former minister, Mr Anutin, ordered the removal of it as a scheduled narcotic in 2022.
HEALTH FIRST: Minister pushes for medical cannabis only, amid international concerns over recreational use. Not clear if a medical cert will be required
Minister Cholnan highlighted the legislative focus of his new law will be on medical applications of cannabis. It underscores the promotion of its use for various health benefits which was the initial impetus for legalising it.
‘The new law will clearly stipulate that cannabis must be used for medical purposes only. It will also encourage the use of cannabis for a range of health benefits,’ stated Dr Cholnan after signing the bill.
The government’s intent is to reinforce strict regulations on cannabis use, ensuring its exclusive use in Thailand only for medical purposes.
Responding to existing regulations by the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department, which lists cannabis as a controlled herb, Dr Cholnan acknowledged the need for potential revisions if the rules conflict with the new law.
Notably, the bill does not yet specify whether purchasing cannabis will require a medical certificate. It leaves this aspect subject to the enforcement of organic laws.
Growing medical evidence that cannabis causes adverse medical outcomes both mentally and physically. New planned Thai law tightens even its medical use
While the bill emphasises medical cannabis use, Dr Cholnan highlighted the ongoing need to evaluate the drug.
It comes with growing medical evidence that the substance can have negative health outcomes.
Markedly, numerous academic studies including those published in The Lancet suggest that cannabis is injurious to mental health. These were based on UK and European clinical studies. US clinical studies have recently also shown a link between heavy recreational use of pot and heart issues.
Besides, Mr Cholnan emphasised correct medical procedures and research for those using cannabis at home for medical purposes.
Regarding the impact on cannabis stores, he clarified that the existing law does not currently revoke licences for legally registered stores.
However, once the new law is in place, things will change. After that, cannabis stores are expected to sell only parts of the cannabis plant deemed legal in Thailand.
New law, if passed, will again empower the Royal Thai Police to act against people misusing cannabis or pot exclusively for recreational use in Thailand
Under the Narcotics Code, products containing over 0.2% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), cannabis’ main psychoactive agent, by weight will be illegal. Dr Cholnan affirmed that the forthcoming law will assist law enforcement in apprehending individuals misusing cannabis for recreational purposes.
At length, the push for stricter cannabis regulation in Thailand is popularly supported. Polls prior to the May 14th General Election showed strong public support for its criminalisation again.
Meanwhile, concerns have emerged about potential conflict with the new law and its impact on cannabis stores.
The legislation, when enacted, is poised to reshape the landscape for cannabis usage in the country.
In short, this is not the meaningless accommodation that was expected politically to keep the Bhumjaithai Party onside.
Law may have political repercussions if it sweeps away the pot legacy left by current Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and the Bhumjaithai Party
The Bhumjaithai Party campaigned strongly for a wider liberalisation of cannabis use. Nevertheless, the party denies its support for the recreational use of the drug.
Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, its leader and now Minister of the Interior hinted strongly at this in 2022, however. He famously said that the public must change its views on cannabis.
Meanwhile, news of a substantial cannabis seizure overseas has highlighted an international dimension. Thailand has strong international commitments to subdue the use of the substance signed between 1961 and 1988.
For instance, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, signed in Vienna, which came into effect in 1976.
Significantly, Thailand was among 34 countries that signed up to the suppression of a wide range of depressants and stimulants. Undeniably, this includes ketamine, amphetamine and tetrahydrocannabinol which is the active ingredient in cannabis.
Seizures of marijuana in Ireland coming from Thailand
At this time, there are disturbing reports from Ireland, a wealthy country in the midst of a drug proliferation crisis.
Reports indicate that over €1.1 million (฿41.7 million) worth of cannabis was seized in Dublin, Kildare, Westmeath, and Limerick in Ireland on January 4.
Of the total, 14.2kg of cannabis worth almost €285,000 (฿10.8 million) were found in parcels sent from Thailand. They were addressed to various locations in Dublin.
The largest seizure, estimated at €500,000 (฿18.9 million), occurred in Clane, Co Kildare, where authorities discovered 25kg of the drug.
The Irish police, An Garda Síochána, arrested a woman in her late 30s. Alongside batches from Thailand, cannabis had been sent from France and Spain to addresses in Dublin and Galway.
The international interceptions underscore the complex challenges associated with cannabis regulation and enforcement In Thailand.
Undoubtedly, it highlights Thailand’s international responsibilities and legal obligations as a signatory to key international conventions.
Public support for a move to agents outlaw cannabis is for recreational use. However, there is now a strong cannabis lobby in Thailand that will oppose it
As Thailand moves to regulate cannabis strictly, both domestically and in the international context, the government seeks a balance.
It has a mandate only to allow its responsible medical application. The public’s will is to outlaw recreational misuse.
The discussion on cannabis legislation in Thailand reflects broader global discussions surrounding the drug’s usage. It is quite a divisive subject with pot users disinclined to be objective about medical evidence suggesting its dangers.
Politically, it is a potential banana peel for Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s government. Particularly, as Deputy Prime Minister Anutin and the Bhumjaithai Party see cannabis outlets in tourist areas as a signature achievement of its period in power.
On the other hand, many within the new cannabis industry in Thailand will oppose this law. Undoubtedly, they will have lobbyists on their behalf paid for by the sector’s vast profits.
In summary, they will say, once the genie is out of the bottle, you cannot simply put it back in.