New Thai Legislation on Marijuana Spurs Tourist Interest
Thailand’s recent legalization of marijuana has generated a surge in tourism, despite the strict drug regulations observed in many other Asian nations. A Japanese visitor exemplifies this trend by purchasing cannabis buds from a reputable weed shop in central Bangkok, grinding them in a compact grinder, and skillfully rolling them into a joint. Although he coughs slightly when he lights up and inhales deeply, it becomes evident that he had only recently begun experimenting with marijuana.
Legalizing Cannabis Cultivation in Thailand
Thailand has become the first Asian country to legalize the cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis, primarily focusing on its potential to boost the agriculture and tourism sectors. However, recreational marijuana smoking remains illegal.
In an effort to promote cannabis cultivation, the public health minister plans to distribute 1 million cannabis seeds to farmers starting this Friday.
Thailand is primarily advancing its marijuana laws for therapeutic purposes. While it is acceptable for visitors to seek medical treatment or purchase health-related products, it is misguided to visit the country solely based on the perception that cannabis or marijuana is legal there or to freely smoke joints.
Anutin, a former business magnate, strongly emphasizes that tourists with the sole intention of pursuing cannabis-related activities are not welcome in Thailand.
Furthermore, Anutin believes that by supporting agriculture, the Thai cannabis industry has the potential to generate billions of dollars in revenue.
Check out our cannabis dispensary directory in Thailand.
Rationale Behind Cannabis Legalization
The Thai government has clarified that the legalization of cannabis is primarily intended for medical purposes. They have cautioned individuals seeking to smoke cannabis recreationally that such behavior may be deemed a public nuisance, potentially resulting in a three-month prison term and a fine of 25,000 Thai baht ($780).
Regarding cultivation and personal consumption, as long as individuals register and declare it for medical purposes, there seems to be minimal monitoring or regulation in place. Thailand had already approved the use of medical marijuana in 2018.
To discourage excessive recreational use, authorities aim to limit the potency of legally available cannabis products. Products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component responsible for the “high” sensation, are still prohibited if they contain more than 0.2 percent THC.
The health ministry has certified 1,181 products, including food and cosmetics, that contain cannabis extracts. It is projected that by 2026, this industry could generate up to 15 billion baht ($435.16 million).
However, concerns have been raised regarding the equitable distribution of benefits resulting from this reform, despite the potential for economic growth.
Many cannabis businesses, including Thongwilai’s, now hire staff members who can communicate in English, which has become the common language in the industry. Thongwilai emphasized the importance of being able to engage with foreigners, stating that fluency in English is not essential but conversational skills are necessary.
According to Thongwilai, the majority of his customers are from Asia, with about half of them being first-time marijuana users. While some customers express interest in trying cannabis edibles, he prefers to encourage them to smoke instead. He believes that edibles take longer to take effect, and during that time, people may consume more and unintentionally have an overwhelming experience, especially for beginners.