Thailand’s marijuana smokers who wish to grow their own pot have been instructed to hold their horses, as the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) still has some way to go before the updated regulation comes into effect.
According to Wissanu Krea-ngam, the government’s legal expert, changes are planned to affect certain cannabis products but not all and have not yet been passed into law. Especially pot smokers wanting to grow their own weed and light up in public.
It will take 120 days after the Royal Gazette announcement for the changes to take effect, he said. He also added that new regulations on cannabis (marijuana) will soon be drafted to define what constitutes legal cannabis use.
On Tuesday, the ONCB endorsed the Ministry of Public Health’s proposal to legalize cannabis and hemp in Thailand. The proposal will now be forwarded to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who will endorse it before it is published in the Royal Gazette.
Pot Smokers still face prosecution
Furthermore, the Bhumjaithai Party, led by Mr Anutin, is pushing a bill regulating cannabis and hemp outside the scope of research and medicine. It will then be submitted to the parliament for consideration.
According to Mr Wissanu, pot smokers caught growing cannabis on their property before the change takes effect will still be prosecuted. It’s wise to hold off on growing marijuana for the moment, he said.
In addition, the warning applies to recreational pot smoking as well.
“We should exercise caution until the law has been clarified,” he said. Taking such action isn’t something that can be taken lightly.
Parliament is expected to pass the bill regulating cannabis’ use outside of research and medicine within 120 days, according to Mr Wissanu.
According to him, this bill will allay concerns that Thailand’s recent decision to ease restrictions surrounding cannabis use could violate three international anti-narcotics conventions that Thailand has signed.
The bill will demonstrate the nation’s commitment to keeping its use of cannabis in check, he said.
Various conventions, the oldest dating back to 1961, stipulate that narcotic substances, including marijuana, are illegal in member countries. They prohibit the use of cannabis unless it is medically necessary.
Nonetheless, regulating cannabis even for such reasons is difficult, he said.
It is difficult for authorities to verify quickly whether THC levels in a product are legal, which could result in wrongful arrests, he said.
The decriminalization of marijuana in Thailand
The decriminalization of marijuana production and use for medicinal purposes was introduced in Thailand in 2020, making the country the first Asian nation to do so.
In 2020, cannabis plant parts were removed from the “Category 5” list of controlled drugs, but seeds and buds, which are associated with recreational use, were retained.
Minister Anutin has been instrumental in decriminalizing marijuana. During the 2019 general election, he ran for the Bhumjai Thai Party, a major partner in the country’s coalition government, advocating the legalization of marijuana production to assist farmers.
In addition to promoting cannabis as a major industry in Thailand, his latest measure is also expected to boost the sales of cannabis products.
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