There’s been much consternation in the Thai cannabis community in the weeks since the recently proposed bill to regulate the sector was sent back for review after failing to clear the nation’s parliament.
Quick Summary: The Minister of Public Health has stated publicly, there is no easy path to criminalizing cannabis again and that legalization is here to stay.
What’s Going On?
The legalization of cannabis in Thailand was meant to happen in two phases.
The first was the actual legalization of the plant and its products, as well as the forgiveness of any prisoners serving time for cannabis related crimes.
The second was to regulate the growing, sale, warehousing, etc. and it’s there that things seem to be a little stuck.
The issue is that until the second legislative package passes, Thailand’s cannabis industry is something of a “Wild West” with no real controls on sale, consumption, etc. at all.
This isn’t what anyone had in mind when they legalized cannabis but there are some serious challenges to overcome before regulatory measures are passed.
These include objections from the main opposition party and some of Thailand’s medical establishment.
Unfortunately, the original, reasonably concise, legislation more than doubled in size under a recent review and both sides are now arguing that the new bill both goes too far and doesn’t go far enough.
The biggest sticking points, for now, appear to be that the opposition are against the provision to allow every Thai household to grow up to 15 plants at home and they want a stronger line against recreational consumption of cannabis.
But does this mean that we might reach a point where the lawmakers give up and simply repeal the first part of the legislation and make cannabis illegal again?
We don’t think so and this is why.
The Government Is Clear Legal Cannabis Is Here To Stay
The Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul is quite clear that there will be no “re-criminalization” of Cannabis.
Not only did the honorable Minister push for the original legalization of the plant for medical use but he has, as we reported recently, become calmer about the idea of recreational use in recent months too.
He says that the whole fuss at the moment is something of a storm in a tea cup and he intends to meet with opposition leaders to reach a compromise that all sides can live with.
He notes there are temporary laws that prevent the use of the drug by minors and pregnant women and that you can’t reverse decriminalization as easily as some might suggest saying,
“If we reclassified cannabis as a narcotic, even temporarily, bringing back possible extended jail sentences and extensive fines. Then do we have to put all previously released prisoners charged in marijuana-related cases in jail again? Would we be chasing down the millions of Thais with one plant and throwing them in jail? Or do we have to shut down every plantation in the country, regardless of usage or purpose, affecting over a million Thais?”
And when it’s put like that? It becomes very clear that there is no path back to illegal marijuana in Thailand.
Sure, it may lead to a few months of Thailand’s cannabis businesses operating in something of a “gray area” but things will eventually be resolved and everything will be clearer.