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Smoke clears on Thailand’s Cannabis Bill

“The updated legislation prohibits the sale of cannabis buds for smoking or the provision of smoking equipment within shops.”

The Thai Public Health Ministry has finalised the new version of the Cannabis-Hemp Act, according to Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew.

Contrary to earlier speculation, the new law will NOT reclassify cannabis as a narcotic. Minister Cholnan says that the revised legislation, now comprising approximately 70 sections, addresses public concerns and closes loopholes that might allow the recreational use of cannabis.

The lack of a formal cannabis bill has caused confusion and a proliferation of retail shops and quasi ‘recreational use’ which was never intended by the original decriminalisation. The coalition leader, the Pheu Thai party, campaigned on a winding back of the current situation and a crackdown on recreational use of marijuana. Opposition leaders Move Forward also wanted to allow cannabis for medicinal purposes only.

While the core of the new law still designates cannabis as a controlled herb, any extract containing more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is classified as a narcotic.

Minister Cholnan reiterated support for medicinal cannabis use but emphasised that recreational use is not endorsed. Under the new law, even individuals cultivating cannabis for personal use must obtain permission.

In the original Cannabis and Hemp Law draft, households could grow up to 15 plants for personal use, merely requiring them to inform local authorities.

However, the revised law mandates seeking permission before cultivation. Existing cannabis shops with licenses can continue operations but must adhere to the new regulations, including prohibiting on-site cannabis smoking and refraining from selling dried cannabis buds.

The law will provide clarity on venues prohibited from selling or permitting cannabis on their premises. Minister Cholnan clarified that while not all cannabis shops will be shut down, they must comply with the law.

The updated legislation prohibits the sale of cannabis buds for smoking or the provision of smoking equipment within shops.

The legality of smoking cannabis at home remains a grey area, pending further public feedback. Regarding whether cannabis and hemp should be governed by separate laws, Minister Cholnan acknowledged the discussion but highlighted that current regulations consider hemp as a type of cannabis with low THC levels.

The Public Health Ministry plans to allow public scrutiny of the law, with a feedback window scheduled until mid-December. The public will have two weeks to provide opinions, and the minister will assess whether any further updates are necessary before submitting the law to the cabinet.

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