Thailand moves to decriminalise marijuana but rules regarding recreational use are hazy

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Thailand’s Narcotics Control Board (NCB) on Tuesday (Jan 25) approved the de facto decriminalisation of marijuana.

However, the rules regarding its recreational use are unclear.

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the NCB had approved the removal of marijuana from its list of controlled drugs.

The change in the law to decriminalise marijuana will only come into effect 120 days after it is published in the Royal Gazette.

Mr Anutin said the removal is in line with the government’s policy to promote the use of cannabis for medical or research purposes, as well as enabling Thai people to benefit from cannabis.

Mr Anutin also said that any cannabis must have less than 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects and which makes users feel ‘stoned’.

It also remains unclear whether people in Thailand will be able to use marijuana recreationally without being subject to arrest.

When speaking to Thai language media, Mr Anutin stopped short of confirming whether or not the general population would be legally allowed to grow cannabis at home, saying people should wait until the ruling regarding marijuana is becomes law.

Mr Anutin is expected to present a proposal to a draft bill to parliament that would provide guidelines concerning the recreational use of marijuana in Thailand.

Even under the draft bill, people who grow marijuana in Thailand but who fail to notify the authorities could face fines of up to 20,000 baht.

Meanwhile, people who sell marijuana without a valid license could face up to three years in jail and/or a fine of up to 300,000 baht.

In 2020, Thailand became the first Asian country to decriminalise the production and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The changes in 2020 saw most parts of the cannabis plant no longer classified as a ‘Category 5’ narcotic.

However, the seeds and buds, which are typically used in recreational use, remained a narcotic.

The new proposals would see all parts of the plan removed from being a Category 5 narcotic.

Since 2020, scores of products, such as drinks, food and cosmetics, containing hemp and CBD – a compound that does not get people high – have been launched in Thailand.