Thailand to Re-Criminalize Recreational Cannabis Use by Year-End

The Thai government plans to recriminalize recreational cannabis use by the end of 2023, just two years after decriminalizing it. The move aims to address concerns over the rushed liberalization and perceived confusion surrounding regulations. However, it faces opposition from the domestic cannabis industry and advocates who warn of economic consequences and potential inconsistencies with the legal status of other substances like alcohol and cigarettes.

Trim Correspondents
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Thailand to Recriminalize Recreational Cannabis Use by Year-End. | Image Credit: @Thavisin/Twitter

Thailand is set to reverse course on its landmark decriminalization of recreational cannabis use, with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announcing plans to re-list the substance as a narcotic by the end of 2023. This move comes just two years after the country became one of the first in Asia to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, a decision that sparked rapid growth in the domestic retail sector, with tens of thousands of shops and businesses emerging in an industry projected to be worth up to $1.2 billion by 2025.

During a meeting with agencies involved in narcotics suppression, Srettha cited concerns over drug addiction among the youth and the need for tougher enforcement measures. He instructed the health ministry to amend the rules and re-list cannabis as a narcotic, allowing its use solely for health and medical purposes.

"The ministry should quickly issue a rule to allow its usage for health and medical purposes only," Srettha stated on the social media platform X.

The prime minister's comments mark a significant reversal from the previous government's decision to decriminalize cannabis for recreational use in 2022, a move that followed the legalization of medical marijuana in 2018. Critics have argued that the liberalization process was rushed, leading to confusion over rules and regulations.

Srettha's administration had previously signaled its intention to introduce a new cannabis law by the end of the year, effectively banning recreational marijuana while permitting its use for medical and health purposes.

Why It Matters:

The decision to recriminalize recreational cannabis use in Thailand has significant implications for the country's burgeoning cannabis industry, small businesses, and consumers. It also raises questions about the consistency of drug policies and the potential economic consequences of such a reversal. The move highlights the ongoing debate surrounding cannabis legalization and the challenges governments face in balancing public health concerns with emerging industries and consumer demands.

Key Takeaways:

  • Thailand to re-list cannabis as a narcotic substance by year-end.
  • Recreational use to be banned, medical and health use still allowed.
  • Reverses landmark decriminalization of recreational marijuana in 2022.
  • Domestic cannabis retail sector projected to be worth up to $1.2 billion by 2025.
  • Critics argue liberalization was rushed, causing regulatory confusion.