Thailand Reverses Cannabis Legalization, Restricts Use to Medical Purposes

May 9, 2024 - 13:19
Thailand Reverses Cannabis Legalization, Restricts Use to Medical Purposes



Thailand, once at the forefront of cannabis legalization in Asia, is now moving to outlaw the drug again, with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin citing concerns over accessibility to children and rising criminal activities.

In a statement on the social media platform X, Prime Minister Thavisin announced his intention to amend the country's narcotics list to reclassify cannabis and implement strict regulations limiting its use to medical purposes only. This decision marks a significant reversal from Thailand's move to decriminalize cannabis just two years ago, initially intended for medicinal use but subsequently leading to an unregulated market.

The prime minister's directive also includes instructions for local authorities to crack down on criminal activities associated with the illegal drug trade, with a mandate for visible progress within the next 90 days.

The decriminalization of cannabis in 2022 was championed by the Bhumjaithai Party, particularly in regions like the impoverished northeast, where farmers were promised economic opportunities through cannabis cultivation. However, the lack of regulation and oversight led to public backlash and concerns regarding misuse and increased crime.

In the aftermath of the 2023 elections, all major political parties, including Bhumjaithai, pledged to reevaluate cannabis policies and restrict its use exclusively to medical purposes.

The announcement of the reclassification has stirred opposition from cannabis advocates and entrepreneurs, who argue that rolling back legalization would have detrimental effects on the economy. Legal cannabis has contributed significantly to Thailand's tourism and farming sectors, fostering the growth of numerous cannabis-related businesses across the country.

As Thailand navigates this policy shift, the decision to restrict cannabis to medical use underscores the complex balance between public health concerns and economic considerations in drug policy.