3,000 inmates to be released . . .
Today, marijuana and hemp will be removed from Thailand’s banned narcotics list, according to the Thai Food and Drug Administration. More than 3,000 inmates serving prison time for cannabis-related crimes will also be released. The government plans to distribute one million cannabis plants to households for free to grow for personal medicinal use. However, the household would have to notify the local government before growing. It is also now possible to obtain a licence to grow marijuana for a commercial enterprise, though the recreational use of cannabis is still forbidden, with public marijuana smoking still punishable by a C$1,000 fine and up to three months in jail. And only low-potency cannabis will be permitted.
A first in Southeast Asia . . .
In 2018, Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. Bhumjaithai, the second-largest party in Thailand’s ruling coalition led by Anutin Charnvirakul, was a major player in this legal shift. Charnvirakul said that small-scale cannabis farming could bring households an additional C$16,300 yearly. Through marijuana and hemp, he projected that Thailand could add C$380 million to its annual economic activity. Thailand’s marijuana and hemp businesses are now attracting investment interests of more than C$44 million. Charoen Pojphand Foods (CPF), a food and beverage conglomerate headquartered in Thailand, recently formed a joint venture with a renewable energy developer to produce cannabidiol (CBD)-infused products.
‘Cannabis sandbox’ for foreign visitors . . .
Many countries in the Asia Pacific are softening their stance on cannabis, but it remains illegal in most. South Korea was the first East Asian nation to legalize medicinal marijuana in 2018. In the same year, Canada was one of the first countries in the world to legalize the recreational use of the plant. For Thailand, tourism may rise in the future as authorities are exploring the idea of a ‘cannabis sandbox’ where foreigners could use cannabis recreationally in certain areas. Nevertheless, Thailand’s move toward cannabis legalization is bound to open room for confusion regarding legal limits for production, possession, medicinal use, and in the future, recreational use.