Medical marijuana is now legal in Thailand. The government passed the law in hopes that the export of cannabis from Thailand will make a profit. Most likely, it will stimulate their economy. That’s a plus.
The law, passed this year, abolished a five-year ban that targeted private companies from producing medical marijuana. With this new law, private companies can now produce, export, import, sell, and possess medical cannabis. A breakthrough for the cannabis industry, Thailand can now become one of the leaders in the market.
Thailand has used marijuana as a spice and herbal remedy for centuries. But, it hasn’t been until recently that they’ve made their cannabis laws so lax.
Thailand is the first South-East Asian country to legalize medical marijuana for patients. The government issues certificates for patients who are approved to consume cannabis for medicinal purposes. When Thailand passed this law in 2019, the government started taking an interest in the marijuana industry and moving toward legalization.
Now Thailand is issuing certificates to private companies. Without a certificate, both private citizens and companies are considered to be illegal.
Under this new legislation, foreign entities are allowed to participate in the venture, as long as they don’t exceed one-third of the company’s shares. International travelers can purchase licenses for the import and export of their medical marijuana medication.
Is Recreational Marijuana Legal in Thailand?
To date, recreational marijuana is not legal in Thailand. Only patients with a medical marijuana certificate or doctor’s prescription and private companies, such as those in the agricultural industry, are allowed to possess the plant.
Although recreational marijuana is illegal, possession and consumption of the plant have sky-rocketed. Cannabis is more readily available now that the new medicinal and growing laws are established.
If caught, possessing or using marijuana without a license can result in imprisonment and stiff penalties.
Cannabis is considered a category 5 narcotics. Under the Narcotics Act, the fine for being caught with cannabis if you don’t have a license can be severe. If a person is caught distributing cannabis to others, they could face two to 10 years in prison or a fine of 40,000 to 200,000 Baht. Should the amount distributed is over 10 kilograms, the punishment can be up to 15 years imprisonment or 200,000 to 1,500,000 Baht.
If cannabis is only for personal consumption, the prison sentence is five years or less. Additionally, the fine can be up to 100,000 Baht. A maximum of one year of prison time is the punishment if caught smoking or consuming cannabis. The fine can be 100,000 to 1,000,000 Bah
Lack of Supply, Huge Demand
Although it may seem Thailand is heading in a positive direction regarding the legalization of marijuana, there are still some issues. Just three months before the plant was legalized, there were 30,000 applications for medical marijuana. Besides, there are over one million people who are suffering from severe health conditions that are treatable with medical marijuana.
But, there’s a lack of supply.
Due to a lack of regulation, the infrastructure of distributing cannabis only to medical marijuana patients is poor. Right now, only a dispensary or weed store can distribute medical marijuana.
But, people seeking recreational use are getting their hands on the plant. Because of this, there’s a shortage of available cannabis in Thailand.
New Law, New Specifications
The new medical marijuana law, written as amendments to the previous law, is broken down into two main points- the first targets the patients, and the second focuses on the farmers.
What the New Law Says for Patients
Under the new law, patients can grow their medical marijuana, up to six plants per household. By allowing patients to grow at home and sell to the Thai government, the government hopes to increase supply to the country, making it more readily available to those who need it. Patients must apply for a permit to grow only government-approved strains, including the ever-popular Thai Sticks, which is considered a landrace (originating from a specific region) strain.
What the New Law Says for Farmers
Farming marijuana is under strict regulations under a controlled farming system. Farmers, under the new law, are allowed to grow marijuana as raw material for medicinal cannabis. Additionally, farmers must identify with a signed contract from a hospital or medical practitioner to which they will sell their products. Furthermore, the Thai government can purchase a farmer’s harvest at an estimated price of $1000 per pound or $2200 per kilogram.
What the New Cannabis Laws Mean for Tourists
Since Thailand relies on wellness tourism, tourists can import and export medical marijuana if they have a permit from the government. Legalization allows Thailand’s wellness centers to harvest and process marijuana. Additionally, wellness centers can offer cannabidiol cosmetic and wellness treatments. This opens the door to domestic and foreign investments.
To apply for a permit, you need the following:
1. An ID card or passport.
2. Verification of your medical condition(s) being treated with a valid medical certificate(s).
3. Download the application form and print it out. Fill out all information, including name, identification number (ID card or passport), and your medical condition. The amount of marijuana you’ll have in your possession, and the name and license of the doctor, dentist, or traditional medical practitioner who assessed your medical conditions and provided written verification of your needs.
You’ll need a translator to fill out the form, as the language is in Thai.
Thailand is making great strides in the marijuana market. Although a slow process, legalization is leading to a better economy for Thailand. Because of the high demand for marijuana, $311 million is expected to go to the country this year. This is promising as Thailand has experienced a declining economy for years. Legalization seems like a way to take a step forward economically, and it looks like it will.