Weed to remain legal in Thailand
The impending Cannabis Act’s restrictions, which focus mostly on production rather than consumption or sale, have drawn praise from a number of proponents who say there is nothing to be concerned about. Any attempt to recriminalize recreational smoking or to put an end to the flourishing sector that has emerged since legalization was notably missing from the clauses that have so far been made public.
“Nothing has changed,” said Arun Avery of the pro-marijuana Highland Network of the proposed regulations. “What you see now is exactly it.”
Since the law was introduced amid a backlash to the new legal free-for-all, there have been growing concerns that the government may recriminalize cannabis, halt the sudden mainstreaming of cannabis, or perhaps completely end the great experiment.
In the information provided by the committee that has been working on the law before it comes to parliament for a second reading, those worries seemed unjustified.
The measure would prohibit anyone from growing more than 15 plants at home, which, for the majority of homes, would constitute a veritable forest that Arun described as “ample” and formalize the age restriction of 20 that was issued by emergency decree.
“I don’t think it will make any difference for personal use,” he said. “For those who want to grow at home, regular Thai people in the countryside will grow just a few plants.”
Online sales would still be prohibited, but this restriction is not likely to deter the countless social media stores that have long operated secretly.
Want to grow marijuana to sell? It will be necessary to seek authorisation, however it was too early to say how one might do so. Without permission, there would be penalties and jail time. Thais age 20 and older will have to perform commercial growing for Thai-owned and -operated businesses.
A lawyer consulting dispensaries on cannabis regulations said he saw no major changes in the rules on the table.
“Our expectation is that they’re going to mirror in a lot of ways what they did with alcohol,“ Laurence Chaney said. “There’s nothing there so far that’s giving us any concern. The lawmakers are being allowed to add in or make suggestions as to what they want. I don’t really see anything that’s causing our clients concern.”
However, there are worries about what might happen later, especially in light of loud appeals from powerful groups like medical professionals to change course for fear that the abrupt legalization of marijuana could harm children.
Soranut “Beer” Masayavanich, a longtime enthusiast and dispensary owner, said that while the present bill changes little, he worries about what may happen when it reaches the Senate – or when a new administration comes into power.
“That’s the scary thing,” he said. “There’s something coming, there’s going to be a senate meeting, a new government election. That’s what worries me.”
But, he noted that recriminalizing weed at this point would meet a furious response.
“Everyone is growing,” he said. “It’s over, bitch! If they make it illegal, there’s gonna be a mob on their hands.”
Another conspicuous exception from the rules thus far revealed was any mention of a sales license. Although one group of health officials warned last month to arrest marijuana sellers without valid permits, no mention of such a requirement was made. Right now, no license is necessary.
Even so, Arun advised vendors to buy a THB3,200 temporary license from the Public Health Ministry. The processing time is roughly two weeks.
As early as next month, the bill is anticipated to return for a second hearing.
Beyond fixing a few “nuisance” concerns, Chaney predicted that there won’t be many practical adjustments in the near future.
“They’re gonna continue with no smoking in public, they’re gonna continue down that road,” he said. “I foresee the pop-up streets, they’re probably gonna go away, like in Khaosan Road. Private smoking lounges; that will continue to be allowed. “