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Weed in Thailand: Cannabis Legal Status Guide

18 January 2023
Wondering if weed is legal in Thailand? Read our in-depth Thai cannabis law and legal status guide.
18 January 2023
9 min read
Weed in Thailand: Cannabis Legal Status Guide

Contents:
Read more
  • 1. Cannabis laws in thailand
  • 1. a. Possession and use
  • 1. b. Sale
  • 1. c. Growing
  • 2. Is cbd legal in thailand?
  • 3. Is it legal to send cannabis seeds to thailand?
  • 4. Medical cannabis in thailand
  • 5. Industrial hemp in thailand
  • 6. History and politics
  • 7. Helpful hints

Famed for its spectacular beauty and tropical beaches, Thailand is a popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia. Home to nearly 70 million residents, Thailand attracts upwards of 40 million visitors annually. And with recent changes to their cannabis laws, that number could grow significantly in the coming years. So what’s the deal with weed in Thailand?

Asia is well-known for its draconian drug laws, with life-long prison sentences commonplace for even minor infractions. However, in a somewhat stunning policy reversal, the Thai government has made serious changes to its cannabis laws. In today’s article, we’ll take a deep-delve into Thailand's weed laws and answer your most oft-asked question - is weed legal in Thailand?

Cannabis laws in Thailand

In a truly surprising and remarkable change of tact, the Thai government would decriminalize the use and possession of cannabis in June 2022Having first legalized the use of medical cannabis in 2018, the Thai Food and Drug Administration officially removed the cannabis plant from its Category 5 narcotics list. As a result, the possession, cultivation, distribution, consumption, and sale of cannabis are no longer illegal. In addition, anyone with a criminal conviction for cannabis will have their crime expunged.

However, unlike other countries where cannabis has been decriminalized or legalized with a relatively clear set of regulations, the recent changes to Thailand's weed laws have yet to establish a comprehensive framework for its production, sale or distribution. Indeed, while the decriminalization of cannabis in Thailand is absolutely welcomed, the lines between what’s legal and what’s illegal remain distinctly blurred. Let’s take a closer look at Thai cannabis laws.

Possession and Use

Following the changes to the law, the possession of cannabis is no longer the crime that it once was on Thai shores. Prior to the recent changes, anyone found in possession of even small quantities of cannabis would be subject to a potential prison sentence of up to five years. However, while no longer a crime to possess and use, public consumption of cannabis in Thailand remains illegal, with the Thai government expressing some reservations about the potential for the Amsterdam effect that will rise with increased legality.

Since its decriminalization over the summer, an increase in public consumption has been evident. As a result, the Thai authorities have reminded the public of the 1992 Public Health Act, which forbids any “act of public disturbance” resulting from smoke and/or smell. Anyone filing afoul of the law can face a 25,000 baht (around $690) fine and three months of jail time. While it is expected that Thailand will move towards a future of cannabis liberty with free and unfettered access, at present, it remains unwise to consume the plant in public spaces.

Sale

While cannabis has been decriminalized in Thailand and is no longer considered an illegal substance, an established set of frameworks or legislation has yet to be fully established. Yet, despite this, dozens of cannabis dispensaries have now opened within Bangkok and beyond.

 

Weed in thailand: sale

There are hundreds and hundreds of legal weed shops all over Thailand.
 

As such, the market currently exists in something of an intermediary phase - however, the Thai government has expressed its desire to move towards a liberalized, tourist-friendly industry in the near future.

Growing

Having once been a serious criminal offense, it is now low legal to cultivate cannabis at home in Thailand. Following the removal of marijuana from the banned narcotics list, Thai residents are able to cultivate up to six plants in any one household. Remarkably, not only has cultivation been legalized, but it is now being actively encouraged, with the government providing one million Thai cannabis seeds to its citizens to encourage a home cultivation canna-boom. 

Thai residents intending to grow cannabis at home must register with the relevant local authorities. In addition, anyone looking to open a farm to cultivate the plant can do so with a government permit. The first nation in Asia, a continent known for its strict drug laws, to move towards legalized cultivation of the plant is certainly a bold step into the unknown for the Thai government. Of course, the resultant financial benefits set to bolster the countries struggling economy have surely motivated the remarkably quick transition in Thailand's weed laws.

Is CBD legal in Thailand?

CBD oil and CBD extracts can be purchased and used legally in Thailand. Even though CBD oil is legal, individuals may not be able to find it outside of large cities and may be better off purchasing products online.

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What is CBD?

Is it Legal to Send Cannabis Seeds to Thailand?

Yes - as a consequence of changes to Thai cannabis law in 2022, it is not legal to send cannabis seeds into Thailand. In addition, and in order to ease restrictions on cannabis and hemp seeds imports, the Department of Agriculture issued a new edict in 2022, which means it is no longer illegal to ship cannabis seeds into Thailand. This means that hemp and cannabis seeds can now be shipped from abroad by air, sea or overland rather than only by air, as we previously stipulated.

Medical Cannabis in Thailand

Thailand’s government unanimously approved the use of cannabis for medical purposes in December 2018. As a result, Thailand becomes South-East Asia’s first country to implement such a measure. The amendment to the law was approved by 166 members of the National Legislative Assembly, with only 13 members abstaining. The vote was unanimous with no objections. Prior to the recent changes to cannabis law in Thailand, the government had approved cannabis treatments for only three conditions:

 

  • Nausea and/or loss of appetite suffered by those undergoing chemotherapy
  • Child Epilepsy,
  • Multiple Sclerosis

 

However, as a result of the recent alterations to Thai cannabis law, clinics and medical practitioners now have more freedom to offer cannabis as a treatment for other health-related conditions. In addition, the Thai Narcotics Control Board continue to work closely with their US counterparts at the FDA in order to help regulate their cannabis-based research. This has caused some to speculate that some FDA-approved medical products will soon be available for patients in Thailand.

Industrial hemp in Thailand

Given the recent changes to Thailand's weed laws, a boom in the local industrial hemp industry is expected to take place in the coming months and years. The Thai government made its first moves towards a more regulated hemp industry in 2018, with the Ministry of Public Health creating a new set of regulations to control the country’s production, distribution, and possession of hemp. The 2018 regulatory changes permitted the cultivation of hemp on a mass scale, but only once a license had been provided by the relevant authorities.

However, having finally recognized the enormous potential for a seriously financially rewarding industry that could dramatically drive the economy, the Thai government’s decision to legalize cannabis has given the local hemp industry a huge shot in the arm. Indeed, according to figures released by the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce, it is estimated that the combined hemp and cannabis markets will generate 43 billion baht ($1.2 billion) by 2025.

 

Weed in thailand: industrial hemp

There are currently +120,000 individuals registered to grow legal hemp in Thailand.
 

Under the new regulations, private individuals may cultivate hemp simply by registering their activities with the local authorities. However, any commercial producers will still require the permit mentioned earlier. Since the changing of the law, over 120,000 individuals have registered to grow hemp or marijuana in Thailand after the new legislation went into effect in the summer of 2022. A simplified process designed to encourage the development of the industry, Thai regulations now allow private growers to cultivate cannabis in Thailand once they have completed a non-restrictive online registration hosted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, while restrictions make it a little more challenging for commercial operators to begin hemp production in Thailand, several companies have declared their intentions to develop CBD businesses within the country following the decision to remove cannabis from its list of dangerous narcotics. In order to comply with the law, hemp cultivated in Thailand must contain no more than 1% THC. In addition, hemp cultivation must take place in designated areas, and the seeds must be sourced from licensed hemp producers. Once licensed, hemp cultivators may grow, harvest, or convert hemp for the following purposes:

 

  • Household use
  • Commercial use
  • Research
  • Production and/or distribution of seeds or other parts of the plant (as permitted by the Narcotics Control Committee)

 

In addition, the decision to decriminalize marijuana use while also expunging past convictions is a result of the significant overcrowding that continues to cause serious issues in Thai prisons.

History and Politics

Like many other countries in Asia, Thai cannabis use is said to date back hundreds, if not thousands, of years.  Cannabis was commonly used in Southeast Asia in cooking, medicine, and as a source of fiber. Thai workers were said to use it as a muscle relaxer, with women using it to ease childbirth pains. Thai cannabis - which is known as one of the purest Sativa landraces in existence is a popular strain across the globe and is famed for its rapid onsetting cerebral high.

However, despite its popularity for hundreds of years, the possession, cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis was first criminalized by the Cannabis Act 2477 BE (1935) and again in 1979. Cannabis sale, possession, and cultivation were criminalized under the Narcotics Law (1979) and the Psychotropic Substances Act (1975). In the 1960s, however, the illegal cannabis industry flourished when US military bases were established in the country. The American GIs in Thailand reported that cannabis was as widely available as beer, despite the fact that it was illegal.

 

Weed in thailand: history and politics

Marijuana was first criminalized in Thailand back in 1935.
 

However, in the 1980s, like other nations in the region, Thailand joined the US government in its war against cannabis. A new phase in Thai cannabis history was ushered in through the collaboration with the States; a firm anti-drugs stance combined with severe penalties for those who broke the law. Yet despite decades of intolerance, the surprising decision to first legalize medical cannabis in 2018 and the subsequent decriminalization of cannabis have seen Thai cannabis attitudes make a full 180-degree shift. Of course, while the decision to legalize the sale and possession of cannabis in Thailand is largely financially related, the decision to decriminalize while also expunging past convictions is a result of the significant overcrowding that continues to cause serious issues for the Thai government.

Helpful Hints

Such a popular tourist destination for millions across the globe, the potential for cannabis in Thailand to become something akin to an Amsterdam of the East is obvious. While a variety of unimagined complications and difficulties are sure to arise as Thailand moves forward with its bold plans for cannabis legality, the residual financial benefits have finally tipped the risk/reward scale in favor of marijuana legalization. With the country’s tourist industry badly hit during the COVID pandemic of the past three years, the legalization of weed in Thailand should provide the economy with a badly needed leg-up.

Getting a head start on neighboring countries who have yet to even consider introducing legislation to legalize cannabis, there is a sense that Thai’s decision to legalize marijuana could prove lucrative for the country and potentially game-changing for the cannabis industry as a whole throughout the region. However, while remarkable progress has been rapid, if somewhat chaotic, public consumption of cannabis remains illegal, even if both public and political attitudes have altered radically in less than a year. In a country where possession of cannabis would once inevitably result in a lengthy spell in prison, it is truly quite something to see our wonderful plant being recognized and increasingly destigmatized by the wave of global legality surrounding its growth, use, and sale.

Exciting times lie ahead for the cannabis industry, and if you want to learn more about cannabis laws from around the globe, check out our in-depth Fast Buds blog section, where you’ll find all the latest cannabis news, grow tips, and much more.