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Thailand’s Government Changes Tone About Cannabis Ban

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In June 2022, Thailand modernized its cannabis policies to permit adult-use cannabis cultivation and possession in instances involving cannabis varieties that are low in THC. As recently as February of this year, Thailand was expected to go backward on its cannabis policies and re-prohibit all forms of recreational cannabis cultivation and use.

When Thailand reformed its cannabis policies back in 2022, it was a monumental shift for a nation that is located in a region that has long been home to some of the harshest cannabis penalties on earth, including nations that still issue the death penalty for cannabis-only offenses.

At the time of Thailand’s policy shift, the measure was hailed as an amazing achievement for the global cannabis reform movement, with cannabis being removed from Thailand’s list of banned substances.

Thailand’s new approach involved permitting every household in the entire country to sign up to legally cultivate low-THC cannabis plants. There were no plant limits for the government’s cultivation program when it launched, and Thailand’s government even gave away over 1 million cannabis seeds directly to households that signed up.

A broad spectrum of government agencies in Thailand agreed leading up to the implementation to do their part to push Thailand’s emerging cannabis industry forward. Thailand also released thousands of people serving time for cannabis offenses. That all changed in August 2023 when a new prime minister was elected, with the new incumbent vocally opposing cannabis reform.

Members of Thailand’s government have changed their tone about plans for changes to the nation’s cannabis law, although the future result seems to likely be the same. Per excerpts from The Nation:

Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said the government will soon pass a bill that ensures marijuana is used for medical and health purposes only.

Cholnan made this comment on Tuesday to apparently correct Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who recently told an online news site that his government will be putting marijuana back on the list of narcotics.

Putting marijuana back on the narcotics list would spark conflicts between coalition leader Pheu Thai and key partner Bhumjaithai.

The rhetoric being thrown around in Thailand is confusing, and largely seems to involve political semantics. If a measure is passed in Thailand that bans recreational cannabis use and limits cannabis to approved medical use only, it will further shut down what was rapidly becoming a thriving industry in Thailand. Only time will tell if/when that proves to be the case.