In the media, these past few days have been confirmation of the direction of the new Cannabis Law. The Public Health Ministry in Thailand has unveiled the first draft of the Cannabis-Hemp Act, signalling a significant shift in the regulatory framework surrounding cannabis in the country. Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew emphasized that while cannabis won’t be reclassified as a narcotic, the new law introduces crucial changes aimed at closing existing loopholes.
Controlled Herb Definition
The core of the Cannabis-Hemp Act maintains cannabis as a controlled herb. However, any extract containing more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is still classified as a narcotic. Minister Cholnan reiterated the government’s support for medicinal cannabis use but clarified that recreational use would not be permitted.
Personal Cultivation Regulations
Under the initial draft, households were allowed to grow up to 15 cannabis plants for personal use, with a simple notification on the Phuk Ganja application to local authorities. Many commercial growers jumped on this loophole, and the updated law now requires individuals to seek permission before cultivating cannabis, even for personal medicinal purposes.
Regulations for Cannabis Shops
Existing cannabis shops with licenses can continue operations but must align with the new regulations. This includes prohibiting on-site cannabis smoking and refraining from selling dried cannabis buds, reporting all sources of product, and recording the purchaser’s details.
The law aims to identify specific venues where the sale or use of cannabis is prohibited. While not intending to shut down all cannabis shops, the government emphasizes that compliance with the law is mandatory. The sale of cannabis buds for smoking or providing smoking equipment inside shops will be prohibited.
Grey Area: Smoking Cannabis at Home
The legality of smoking cannabis at home remains uncertain and is subject to public feedback. Minister Cholnan acknowledged the need for further clarification on this matter.
Cannabis and Hemp Distinction
The issue of whether cannabis and hemp should have separate laws has been raised. Minister Cholnan explained that, according to current legislation, hemp is considered a type of cannabis with low THC levels and is covered under existing legislation.
Public Feedback and Future Steps
The Public Health Ministry plans to provide a window for public feedback on the draft law to ensure a comprehensive approach. The public will have until mid-December to share their opinions, and the minister will analyze this feedback before submitting the finalized law to the Cabinet at the start of 2024.
The act will then need to be published in the Royal Gazette and most likely will come into force after the current tourist season, in March or April 2024.
Thailand’s Cannabis-Hemp Act marks a significant step in refining the regulatory landscape surrounding cannabis. Striking a balance between medicinal use and preventing recreational abuse, the government aims to bring clarity to the industry while seeking input from the public for well-informed and inclusive approaches to medical use and recreation use.
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