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Thailand’s Cannabis Shops Face Extinction After May 14 Election

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Cannabis Thailand

The tides have reversed four years after Thailand’s ruling Bhumjaithai Party gained nearly four million votes on a promise to decriminalize cannabis. The majority of the parties running in Sunday’s national election want the law repealed and cannabis use restricted to medical purposes.

Among the major parties threatening to derail the programme is the Pheu Thai party, which is expected to win the most seats in the new 500-member House of Representatives in all pre-election polls. The re-listing of cannabis as a narcotic, while retaining its medical usage, will protect Thai youngsters from recreational use, according to Pheu Thai.

Anti-Cannabis protests Thailand

Even the progressive Move Forward Party, which has called for liberalization in most other sectors, is attempting to do the same, claiming that it is vital to return to the beginning before progressively legalizing widespread cannabis usage.

Cannabis has become a contentious topic, dividing political parties as well as the country’s 52.3 million voters, since its decriminalization took effect nearly a year ago.

Those who oppose the policy frequently raise concerns about the drug’s detrimental societal influence.

However, there has been some dissatisfaction with the legal vacuum that developed when the plant was decriminalized, thereby launching a new sector before lawmakers could pass legislation to control it.

Months later, legislation to prohibit broader use of the medication became bogged down in parliament when some politicians complained that it did not go far enough to curb recreational usage. The lower House was soon dissolved to make space for the approaching election.

cannabis growers thailand

The cannabis industry took off with little regulation. According to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the cannabis sector is predicted to be worth US$1 billion by 2025, with over a million farmers growing the plant and an estimated 4,500 outlets distributing it in every province of the country.

Away from Bangkok’s politics and controversies, farmers are concerned about losing a large source of income so soon after receiving it. For years, millions of farmers have been subjected to unpredictable export prices for important agricultural commodities ranging from rice to rubber, as well as natural disasters such as drought and flooding.

They’ve come to perceive cannabis as a more robust lifeline that adds to higher income and a better way of life in just a year.

According to Siwasan Khobjaiklang, 41, the leader of a network called Sanom, which consists of seven farms owned by Buri Ram’s young farmers, farmers can earn about 500,000 baht for a harvest of cannabis buds in one rai, or 0.4 acres, compared to about 8,000 baht for rice grown in the same space.

Cannabis Thailand

Mr. Siwasan says his ambition is for Thailand to have a cannabis law that regulates marijuana production and sales, allowing farmers to connect with domestic businesses more easily and even export the products.

What’s at stake here can make the group’s election choices very simple and all the more significant.

“Cannabis is being held as a political hostage,” Mr Siwasan said at his farm, where cannabis plants towered over vegetable patches. “It’s only made it halfway to the dream, which is difficult to achieve without legal clarity.”

Thailand’s Bhumjaithai Party “did what was promised” by decriminalizing cannabis, according to Kajkanit Sakdisubha, founder of Taratera, which buys the plant from local producers to sell in its five dispensaries in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

“If it gets reversed, I believe we’ll see a lot of people on the streets wondering if they need to close down shops and farms because a different party is in power and has a different opinion.”

It’s unclear how they’ll react if Thailand’s legislation, which allows for restricted cannabis use in food and cosmetics, is relaxed.


Cannabis Use Surge in Thailand Since Decriminalization in 2022

Cannabis Use Surge in Thailand Since Decriminalization in 2022

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