Weed is legal in Thailand but tourists can’t smoke

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Thailand legalized the cultivation and possession of marijuana last week, but the new laws come with regulations and exceptions that could put a damper on the country’s idea of ​​a cannabis haven for tourists.

Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration has officially removed marijuana and hemp from the list of Category 5 narcotics, a move that made Thailand the first country in Asia to decriminalize marijuana for medical and industrial use. However, the country does not legalize recreational marijuana nationwide, and the Thai government sets limits on new policies. The new cannabis laws were created with medical, economic and health-related goals in mind, according to a post on the Thai government’s official Facebook page.

Cannabis has been a topic of interest in Thailand for years. In 2018, Thailand approved the use of medical marijuana, making it the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. In May, Thailand’s Minister of Health announced that the Thai government would distribute 1 million cannabis plants to Thai households once cannabis is legalized.

So what does this mean for tourists who want to plan a trip to Thailand? Will it be a weed wonderland like Amsterdam? Probably not. Here is a list of what you can and cannot do when it comes to enjoying cannabis in the country.

Thailand legalizes marijuana – with gray areas and caveats

You can grow and trade marijuana and hemp products

If you are visiting Thailand as a tourist for a short time, you probably won’t have the time and resources to grow and market marijuana and hemp. Therefore, this rule applies more to Thai residents.

In early June, Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration launched PlookGanja, a phone app and website that helps people register their cannabis and hemp cultivation, according to the Bangkok Post.

“There will be training and education courses offered to local residents for the transition to commercial cultivation and other business opportunities,” said Monique Jackson-Fitzgerald, co-founder of cannabis travel platform InnDica, at the Washington Post. “As their supply chain grows and regulations are fleshed out, there will be more growth on the purely leisure travel side.”

A local’s guide to Bangkok

You can consume infused foods and beverages

Cafes and restaurants in Thailand are allowed to serve cannabis-infused food and drink, but food and drink products must contain less than 0.2% THC to be legally sold. For context, most US states that have legalized cannabis don’t have potency limits, Jackson-Fitzgerald said. “However, bills have been proposed in a few states that would limit potency, and this is an evolving issue,” she added. Places like Highland Cafe in Bangkok used to be limited to selling products made from parts of the cannabis plant that don’t get people high, but with new rules and regulations in place, the cafe has started to sell marijuana, the Associated Press reported, listing strains including Sugarcane, Bubblegum, Purple Afghani and UFO.

You can use marijuana for medical purposes

While medical marijuana policies for tourists are still vague, some of the information that has come out seems encouraging. “In the next steps, Thais and foreigners will have the option of being treated with medical marijuana,” Marut Jirasrattasiri, director general of Thailand’s Department of Traditional and Alternative Medicine, told Bloomberg in a 2020 interview.

“Thailand is measuring the legalization roadmap and really doing interesting and strategic work and guiding it towards wellness and medicine,” Brian Applegarth, founder of Cannabis Travel Association International, told The Post. “With the announcement of these new laws – which essentially decriminalize cultivation and possession – it’s just another small step in the right direction,” he added.

Asia is slowly reopening to travellers. Here’s where you can go.

You are not allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes

If you plan on lighting a joint in the park, Thailand is not the destination for you. People who smoke weed in public in Thailand will face a three-month prison sentence and a fine of over $700. People who are “studying cannabis for its medicinal benefits or exploring commercial opportunities are welcome,” Jackson-Fitzgerald said. “But I would advise purely recreational tourists to wait before putting Thailand on their travel bucket list.”

Ultimately, the cannabis-related stipulations could confuse tourists who want to participate. A representative for the Tourism Authority of Thailand did not immediately respond to a request for comment on advice for visitors who wish to consume cannabis.

“When cannabis consumers are deciding where to go on vacation, it’s important that they take the time to really understand local laws so they don’t end up doing something that could get them in trouble,” said expert Tom Angell. cannabis. reform expert who tracks marijuana legalization for Marijuana Moment, a cannabis news site.

In Thailand, Angell said, “there seems to be some confusion about what the new policies allow and don’t allow.”

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