Narcotics Control Board votes to make recreational cannabis illegal by January 1, 2025. Pro-cannabis groups to rally in Bangkok on Sunday night. Leader Prasitchai Noonual calls for supporters to unite. It follows Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s directive to shut down the recreational cannabis industry by the beginning of next year.

Pro-cannabis groups plan to begin gathering on Sunday night in Bangkok’s city centre. On Friday, Thai Cannabis Future Writing Network leader Mr Prasitchai Noonual and others called on anyone who supports cannabis to come forward now. It comes as the government’s plan to recriminalise buds and recreational cannabis gathers steam. The government is proceeding on the basis of ministerial regulation. In short, this is the same way former Minister of Public Health and now Ministry of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul unleashed the pot revolution in 2022. However, this time, the minister in charge, Pheu Thai’s Somsak Thepsutin, is moving in reverse. On Friday, the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) approved a proposal to schedule both cannabis and hemp as prohibited Category 5 drugs by January 1st, 2025.

Pro-cannabis leaders gathered on Friday outside the Ministry of Justice to publicise next Monday’s protest in Bangkok. Key leaders called on those who support marijuana or cannabis, including businesses, business people, and all concerned, to gather on Sunday evening or Monday morning near the United Nations building in central Bangkok. At length, the group plans to march on Government House. It comes as Minister of Public Health Somsak Thepsutin (inset centre) pushed his plan to recriminalise the drug. It follows Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s (right inset) order in May. (Source: Ministry of Public Health, Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB), and Thai Cannabis Future Writing Network)

Thailand took another step against outlawing cannabis on Friday. At a meeting chaired by a top ministerial official, the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) agreed to send a notice to the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) to that effect.

The process is the result of an order given in May by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. In short, he wants the recreational cannabis industry in Thailand shut down.

Government move led by  Public Health Minister Somsak Thepsutin initiated by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin in May 2024. It looks like it is on course

The decision by the PM followed comments by the PM to a French TV station, France 24, at the end of March.

In that interview, Thailand’s PM made it clear that he saw cannabis use and proliferation as a recreational experience detrimental to the country.

The PM emphasised that he believed it damaged the country’s national health and economy.

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In the proposal being sent to the ONCB, cannabis buds and any extract above 0.2% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) will become illegal. The effective date was given as January 1, 2025. In addition, hemp is also being returned to the Category 5 schedule of prohibited narcotics.

Reverse of the legal mechanism used in 2022 to unleash a cannabis revolution in June 2022. Aim appears to be having the law reversed by January 1st 2025

In effect, the move is a direct reversal of what former Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul did in early 2022. Later, that change led to a sweeping revolution in June 2022. At length, the ability of law enforcement agencies to control the addictive and hallucinogenic drugs was swept away.

Significantly, its reintroduction as a controlled narcotic will immediately outlaw the drug’s use and sale for recreational purposes.

At a review convened by the Ministry of Public Health in Nonthaburi, participants were told that there are now 7,700 cannabis or pot retail outlets in Thailand.

After today’s meeting, the media was briefed by Dr Surachoke Tangwiwat, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health. Dr Surachoke chaired Friday’s meeting.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the Food and Drug Administration and Mr Panathep Puaphongphan, the Dean of the College of Oriental Medicine at Rangsit University.

Some did not attend and there was a dissenting voice but the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) on Friday voted to again proscribe recreational cannabis use

Indeed, the 29-member committee had already seen three resignations. Of the remaining 26, some failed to attend today’s meeting on the marijuana issue.

However, the majority present voted to bring the substance and hemp back as prohibited substances.

Significantly, there was some opposition to the move. Some members of the Committee decried the inconvenience and disruption the revision to the previous policy would cause.

In addition, the committee will now forward its recommendations to the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB). Firstly, the leaves, stems, roots, branches, and seeds of the cannabis plant will not be outlawed. However, controls will be placed on cultivation.

At the same time, the Ministry of Public Health and Minister Somsak Thepsutin are planning to introduce an easy and convenient permit system. This will be aimed at those cultivating the drug on a limited basis for personal health use.

In the meantime, the cultivation and use of cannabis in the country’s health system will not be affected by this decision.

New simple and convenient permit system to be introduced for those using cannabis for health reasons

Furthermore, in the coming week, the Ministry of Public Health will clarify these arrangements.

Dr Surachoke said that previously 80% of participants in the public health ministry’s consultation had voted in favour of recriminalising cannabis use for recreational purposes.

He suggested that the plans by the Ministry of Public Health and recommendations being made to the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) would make sense.

In short, the situation regarding cannabis in Thailand will be brought back to a state of order early next year.

Certainly, throughout the process, Public Health Minister Somsak Thepsutin has said that he will give the sprawling cannabis retail network advance notice before they are required to close.

Once the minister signs the order, it will take three months to come into effect. First, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) must make the call

If the proposal is approved by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), then the minister will later sign the reversion order. At that point, it will take three months for the new legal status to come into effect.

It will be published first in the Royal Gazette.

Undoubtedly, once that order is signed by the minister, there will be liaisons with the Royal Thai Police. Therefore, the date for the end of the cannabis free-for-all will emerge. There has been some suggestion that this may be April 1, 2025, or even January 1, 2025.

Opinion polls consistently show overwhelming public support. A May 2024 poll by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) showed 75.65% support. In brief, 60.38% strongly agreed while 15.27% ‘rather agreed’ on the government’s plan.

Key pledge of the Pheu Thai Party in 2023

Certainly, the issue is a political one that matters for the Pheu Thai Party-led government. It was a key campaign pledge in May 2023 before that year’s General Election.

‘The resolution of today’s meeting still needs to be sent to the ONCB for consideration, which may have to be amended again. As for other laws that are combined, they must be considered together. The announcement of the status of these narcotics will come into effect on January 1, 2025, to give time to amend other laws to be consistent with the announcement,’ explained Dr Surachoke.

When questioned by reporters on whether the move would require or be accompanied by legislation, the top official deflected. Certainly, it appears the government plans to simply reverse the former minister’s moves in 2022 together with a new permit system.

The permit system will be organised based on ministerial control and regulation.

Meanwhile, the strident pro-cannabis lobby group is on the march. In particular, the Thai Cannabis Future Writing Network, led by Mr Prasitchai Noonual.

Pro-cannabis group walked out on Minister Somsak

Previously, the pro-cannabis lobby walked out of a meeting with Minister Somsak Thepsutin.

At this time, they are bringing pressure to bear on Minister of Justice Thawee Sodsong. On Friday, they called on him to study the ‘scientific data’ showing the benefits of cannabis.

In short, they are aiming to fight the drug recriminalisation process when it goes to the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB).

On Friday, key leaders of the pro-cannabis platform live-streamed from the Ministry of Justice in Bangkok. Those who took part included Mr Prasitchai, M.L. Rungkun Kittiyakorn, and Mr Akkaradet Chakchinda.

Protest on July 8th including a march on Government House by those who want the current cannabis dispensation maintained. Public opinion does not agree

In a call to arms, they urged anyone who values cannabis to now come forward. The group is planning a large demonstration this Monday on Ratchadamnoen Road. 

They want protesters to come on Sunday night and camp out before the Monday protest. The location is between the Royal Thai Army Headquarters and the United Nations (UN) office.

The key leaders said now is the time for cannabis users to unite.

They warned that as there is no legislation passed, the ONCB’s decision could spell the end of the free cannabis era.

Afterwards, it will be in the hands of Minister Somsak Thepsutin who has become a bete noire to the group. Undoubtedly, Minister Somsak is simply following through on orders from Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

On Monday, they plan to afterwards march on Government House to voice their opposition.

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Further reading:

Cannabis slammed by top medical leaders and academics at Ministry of Public Health civil forum

Condemnation of previous pot policy from medical experts as Thailand’s pot shops are set to close

The hard science is in. Regular potent Cannabis use is a danger to mental health. Bad news for the pot shops

Anutin accepts the PM’s line on Pot. He now calls for foreigners operating weed shops to be arrested by police

Cannabis shops to be closed by April 1st 2025 under firm order given by PM to again schedule the drug

Cannabis law emerges as a big political threat to the coalition judging by what happened in 2022 revolt

Jail time to return for Cannabis players as Srettha describes it as a threat to the country and economic negative

Marijuana industry faces disaster as Health Minister unveils law to outlaw recreational pot use in Thailand

Potent pot to be criminalised as the minister looks at ways to suppress recreational cannabis use

Two deaths linked with cannabis use and violent incidents reported in recent days by Thai police

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Thai Marijuana tycoons ponder mixed messaging from the Move Forward-led coalition on the drug

Crackdown on crime wave against Chinese tourists in Bangkok as concerns also raised on cannabis

Cannabis remains illegal as ministers push through a law controlling its use by the public after decriminilisation