Thailand Takes U-Turn on Cannabis Decriminalization

Rolling Back Progress

Thailand, once at the forefront of cannabis decriminalization in Asia, is now reversing its stance, aiming to criminalize recreational cannabis use. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, expressing concern about drug abuse, asserts, “The law will need to be rewritten. We can have that regulated for medical use only.” This marks a major shift just 18 months after the country became the first in Asia to decriminalize cannabis.

Industry Impact

The initial decriminalization wave fueled a flourishing cannabis industry in Thailand, featuring dispensaries, weed cafes, and hemp spas. However, the proposed legislation, outlined in a health ministry draft bill, not only seeks to ban recreational cannabis but also restricts advertising for cannabis products. Entrepreneurs like Wassaya Iemvijan, who turned to cannabis as “alternative care,” express concern: “Cannabis has fewer negative effects as compared to alcohol and cigarettes, but we still make it a point to remind customers about official rules in Thailand.”

Uncertain Future for Businesses

As Thailand contemplates tightening cannabis regulations, questions loom over the future of businesses that thrived post-decriminalization. Observers caution against driving cannabis businesses underground, fearing increased law enforcement challenges. The uncertainty surrounding Thailand’s cannabis industry leaves stakeholders grappling with the potential impact of these proposed changes.

Chen, H., & Olarn, K. (2024, January 10). Thailand moves to ban recreational cannabis use, 18 months after historic decriminalization. CNN.

Chen, H. (2023, September 30). A weed hangover? why Thailand’s having second thoughts about decriminalizing cannabis. CNN.

End of: Thailand Takes U-Turn on Cannabis Decriminalization