This Tuesday, Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalise marijuana. The official announcement came from Anutin Charnvirakul, the Thai Health Minister: the Narcotics Control Board has dropped cannabis from the ministry’s list of controlled drugs. Once formally signed by Health Minister Anutin, the delisting will be published in the government gazette. 120 days after publishing, the delisting will officially go into effect.
This development follows Thailand’s decision from last month, to remove the cannabis plant from the country’s list of illegal drugs. However, it should be noted that the Health Ministry has left a grey area around recreational marijuana use. According to The Associated Press, both Thai police officers and lawyers are unclear if marijuana possession is still an arrestable offence. While marijuana itself is to be decriminalised, the laws surrounding marijuana possession and production are still very much unresolved.
Things are looking up in Thailand
In 2020, Thailand became the first Asian state to decriminalise medical marijuana production. This meant that most parts of the cannabis plant were removed from the Thai “Category 5” list – a list that includes psychoactive mushrooms and the Kratom plant. However, marijuana seeds and buds, which are commonly used for recreational purposes in Thailand, were retained on the list. The present proposal could see a change to the 2020 legislation, by removing all parts of the marijuana plant from the Category 5 list.
Since 2019, Health Minister Anutin has made waves. First elected as the leader of the Bhumjai Thai Party in 2012, he has worked to shake the stigma against marijuana and the cannabis plant. In 2019, he campaigned to legalise marijuana production, in a bid to financially aid Thai farmers. This recent decision to decriminalise marijuana will have a positive impact on Thailand, as it could turn cannabis production into a major industry across the country.
According to Health Minister Anutin, the Thai Food and Drug Association will propose a draft Cannabis Act in Parliament. This could potentially help clarify the legal status of marijuana – alongside its recreational use and commercial sales.
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