Thailand Reverses Course on Cannabis Legalization

Thailand’s health minister has rolled out new legislation that will outlaw recreational cannabis consumption in the nation, undercutting the legalization framework passed by the previous administration.

Full story after the jump.

Thailand is on the brink of a major shift in its cannabis policy with the introduction of a new law proposed by the Minister of Public Health, Mr. Cholnan Srikaew. According to the Thai Examiner, this law aims to strictly regulate the use of cannabis, focusing solely on medical applications and effectively outlawing its recreational use.

The proposed legislation stipulates that any cannabis product with a THC level above 0.2% is illegal, a stark contrast to the previous more liberal stance that saw the proliferation of cannabis outlets across the nation.

The introduction of this law represents a significant departure from the policies of the former Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, under whom cannabis was legalized and integrated into the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department. This new direction raises numerous questions, including whether purchasing cannabis will require a medical certificate and how strictly cannabis stores must adhere to the new regulations. The law also specifically bans the sale of cannabis flower, which is the mainstay of both adult-use and medical markets in the US.

This shift in policy also has international implications. Recent seizures of cannabis in Ireland, originating from Thailand, have brought to light the challenges associated with cannabis regulation and enforcement. Thailand’s government must also consider obligations under international drug control treaties, such as the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, to which Thailand is a signatory.

However, with the emergence of a strong cannabis lobby in Thailand driven by the industry’s profits, there is expected to be stiff resistance to this legislative change. The situation highlights the complexities and divisive nature of cannabis regulation around the world, reflecting broader global discussions and ideology about drug use and plant medicine.

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