Thailand’s health ministry has proposed a new bill that would ban the recreational use of cannabis, reversing a previous decision that decriminalised the drug in 2022. The bill, which will be submitted to the cabinet next week, aims to limit cannabis use to medical and health-related purposes only, and to prevent wider drug problems in the country.
Cannabis was removed from the list of banned narcotics in June 2022 under the previous government, which included the pro-legalisation Bhumjaithai party. The move made Thailand the first country in Asia to decriminalise cannabis, and allowed thousands of marijuana and weed-related shops to open across the nation, especially in tourist areas and business districts.
The decriminalisation of cannabis was seen as a progressive step that would boost the economy, create jobs, and reduce the stigma and criminalisation of cannabis users. It also opened the door for further research and development of cannabis products, such as oils, cosmetics, and beverages.
Cannabis use for fun is considered wrong by the current government
However, the current government, led by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, has taken a different stance on cannabis use, and has vowed to restrict it to medical purposes only. Srettha, who came to power in August 2023 after winning the general election, has expressed his concerns over the recreational use of cannabis, and its potential to lead to addiction and other drug problems.
Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said that the new bill would amend the existing one to only allow the use of cannabis for health and medicinal purposes, and that the use for fun is considered wrong. He said that the government would seek to expedite the process to get the amendments passed, and that the bill would be proposed to the cabinet meeting next week.
Cannabis users and businesses face fines and prison terms under the new bill
If the new bill is passed, cannabis users and businesses would face harsh penalties for violating the law. According to the draft, the recreational use of cannabis would be fined up to 60,000 baht ($1,700), while advertising or marketing campaigns regarding such use could lead to prison terms of up to one year or fines as high as 100,000 baht ($2,856).
The new bill would also affect the existing cannabis shops and products, which would have to comply with the new regulations or face closure. The bill would also require cannabis users to obtain a prescription from a doctor or a certificate from a traditional healer to access cannabis for medical purposes.
Cannabis advocates and activists criticise the new bill as a backward move
The new bill has been met with criticism and opposition from cannabis advocates and activists, who see it as a backward move that would undo the progress made by the previous government. They argue that the new bill would infringe on the rights and freedoms of cannabis users, and that it would harm the cannabis industry and economy.
They also point out that the new bill contradicts the evidence and research that show the benefits and safety of cannabis use, and that it ignores the public opinion and demand for cannabis products. They call for the government to reconsider the new bill, and to engage in dialogue and consultation with the stakeholders and experts in the cannabis sector.
Maria Garcia is an award-winning author who excels in creating engaging cannabis-centric articles that captivate audiences. Her versatile writing style allows her to cover a wide range of topics within the cannabis space, from advocacy and social justice to product reviews and lifestyle features. Maria’s dedication to promoting education and awareness about cannabis shines through in her thoughtfully curated content that resonates with both seasoned enthusiasts and newcomers alike.