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Cannabis Laws in Thailand Face New Scrutiny with New Health Minister

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Cannabis Laws in Thailand
Thailand has a long and complex history with cannabis: File Image

Thailand’s newly appointed Health Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, says he wants to hear people’s thoughts before reaching a final decision on the future of cannabis.

Speaking on his first official working day at the Ministry of Public Health, Mr. Somsak stated that no final decision had been made on whether to proceed with plans to decriminalize cannabis under a new law and that it was critical to solicit public opinion on whether it should be reinstated on the list of controlled narcotic drugs.

Mr Somsak’s predecessor, Dr Cholnan Srikaew, has advocated for tougher legislation to reduce recreational cannabis use, which has soared since decriminalization in June 2022. He had developed a bill outlining the plant’s permitted medicinal uses and the prohibited consumption types.

Supporters of liberalization warned that such a move might drive thousands of cannabis businesses and farms out of business and jeopardize efforts to promote cannabis as an economic crop.

Mr Somsak stated that authorities must critically assess the extent of cannabis applications because no one should cultivate a narcotic-like plant. He further stated that it should not be ingested in a way that would offend non-cannabis smokers.

“We need to find a proper answer, which won’t take long. However, it would not be necessary to have public hearings,” he stated without further elaboration.

Mr Somsak, a former justice minister and lifelong Thaksin Shinawatra supporter, was given the Ministry of Public Health, a Grade-A ministry, as a prize for facilitating the former prime minister’s return and rehabilitation in the recent cabinet reshuffle.

On Mr. Somsak’s first day in office, a hundred public health professionals, led by permanent secretary Dr. Opas Kankawinpong, welcomed him.

Cannabis is no longer considered a narcotic plant unless it contains more than 0.2% of the psychoactive ingredient Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by weight. However, while deregulation was intended to encourage its use for medical treatment, intake for recreational purposes is also common in the absence of adequate legislation and enforcement.

Several groups have been advocating reinstating cannabis on the narcotics list to reduce illegal usage, particularly among teenagers and young people. Previously, Mr Somsak expressed support for reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic.

Cannabis in Thailand

Thailand has a long and complex history with cannabis. The herb was widely used in traditional medicinal and cultural customs for centuries before being banned in the 1930s. However, in 2022, Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to decriminalize cannabis, a bold decision reflecting shifting attitudes.

Thailand sought to promote cannabis as a profitable crop for farmers and to establish a regulated medical marijuana sector. The government removed cannabis from the list of narcotic substances, allowing possession and cultivation of plants with less than 0.2% THC content.

However, recreational use is still prohibited, and critics claim the restrictions are confusing. There are worries about product safety, restricting underage access, and dealing with potential abuse. Supporters anticipate economic prospects in medical tourism and exports.

Thailand’s route is not without hurdles but is a step toward regional cannabis policy reform. As social perceptions shift, the country aspires to balance traditional beliefs and current realities, reaping possible benefits while minimizing hazards.


The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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