The latest legislative proposal in Thailand aims to address the regulatory gaps in the cannabis industry, following the failure of a previous bill to secure parliamentary approval. The draft bill, released by the Health Ministry on Tuesday, advocates for a ban on the recreational use of cannabis, marking a significant shift after Thailand became the first Asian country to decriminalize the plant.
As per the proposed legislation, smoking marijuana and its recreational use in any form will be prohibited, limiting the use of cannabis and its products solely for medical and health purposes. The bill aligns with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's commitment to restricting marijuana use to medical applications amid concerns about addiction.
Penalties outlined in the draft bill include a fine of up to 60,000 baht ($1,720) for individuals caught smoking cannabis recreationally. Those involved in selling cannabis or its extracts for recreational purposes could face up to one year in jail or fines of up to 100,000 baht, or both.
Thailand's cannabis industry has operated in a regulatory gray area since decriminalization in 2022, with lawmakers yet to establish comprehensive regulations. The proposed legislation seeks to address this regulatory vacuum, preventing the proliferation of dispensaries across the country selling various cannabis products.
The draft rules also prohibit advertising or marketing campaigns for cannabis buds, extracts, or smoking devices. Driving under the influence of cannabis is punishable by a fine of up to 20,000 baht or one year in jail. The government plans to tighten licensing rules for cannabis cultivation, sales, exports, and imports, with growers required to apply for a license within 60 days once the new rules take effect.
The government, however, has not proposed reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic, which would entail more severe penalties. Stakeholders and the public have until January 23 to provide feedback on the bill, and potential revisions may be made by the health ministry before submission to the cabinet and subsequent parliamentary approval.
In a separate development, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy embarked on a surprise visit to Lithuania, the first stop on his tour of three Baltic states. The visit aims to discuss Ukraine's ongoing conflict with Russia, as well as Kyiv's aspirations to join NATO and the European Union, amid the approaching second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
This story was originally published by Hindustan Times.