Cannabis legalization in Thailand is currently undergoing a significant shift. In January 2021, Thailand continued to loosen medical marijuana restrictions, legalizing the sale of food and cosmetics products containing cannabis leaves, stems, stalks, and roots. In 2022, the country fully decriminalized the cultivation and possession of the cannabis plant, though public consumption remained restricted​​.

However, the Thai government, led by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, is now reversing its progressive policies toward recreational cannabis use, just 18 months after becoming the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalize the drug. The new government aims to limit cannabis use strictly to medical purposes, as indicated by a recently proposed bill. This bill not only restricts cannabis use to medical purposes but also reintroduces strict penalties for both possession and use, including hefty fines and up to one-year prison sentences​.

The proposed bill, which is currently open for public feedback until January 23, 2024, seeks to outlaw all types of recreational use of cannabis. It provides for fines of up to 60,000 baht ($1,700) for recreational use, while advertisement or marketing campaigns regarding such use could draw jail terms of up to a year or fines ranging as high as 100,000 baht. The fate of unregulated weed shops and dispensaries is unclear, as well as the risks facing those who planted cannabis on a household scale, which is currently allowed after notifying authorities, though without requiring a permit​​.

This abrupt policy reversal has sparked concerns about its impact on the economy and the numerous businesses invested in the cannabis sector. Advocacy groups and pro-cannabis advocates are disappointed, expressing fears that recriminalization would have a heavy impact, especially on the poor​​. The cannabis industry in Thailand, which has been touted as a cash crop with the potential to be worth $1.2 billion by 2025, is now facing uncertainty​​.

In summary, the future of cannabis legalization in Thailand is currently in a state of flux, with the government seeking to roll back recreational use and impose stricter regulations, while the full impact of these changes on the industry and individuals remains to be seen.

Check back for more news as we track the evolution of Thailand’s policy.