Image Source: Thailand is reconsidering the status of cannabis after decriminalising the drug last year [File: Jorge Silva/Reuters]
Thailand’s Bangkok Cannabis aficionados have tracked the drug’s quick transition from illegal narcotic to legal plant for medical use to recreational high on Thailand’s Ganja TV.
The Facebook page’s 90,000 or so fans are now watching puzzled as competing lawmakers vow to make dispensaries and open consumption illegal once more—or at the very least strictly regulated—one year after Thailand decriminalized cannabis.
Pita Limjaroenrat, the aspirant prime minister whose Move Forward Party (MPF) pulled off an unexpected victory to take first place in the general elections last month, is the center of attention.
The multibillion dollar cannabis business in Thailand is under threat, according to cannabis supporters, despite the fact that MFP is generally considered to be the most liberal of Thailand’s political parties.
“What changed you so drastically?” In a recent post, Ganja TV quoted the MFP head praising the potential for the cannabis industry to support educational institutions and offer “immense opportunities” for Thailand.
The cannabis boom, according to Pita, should be put on hold to prevent widespread recreational usage until the incoming administration can approve a planned Cannabis Act that would set clear boundaries for where the drug can be purchased and used.
That aligns with the beliefs of Pita’s coalition of eight parties, several of which are from Thailand’s conservative southern provinces with a Muslim majority. The coalition is attempting to create a government in the coming weeks.
They require 376 seats in order to obtain a parliamentary majority and the ability to create a government coalition with Pita as the premier. They currently number 313.
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is enraged by the alliance’s attitude on cannabis because he championed legalization and refuses to support any administration that wants to temporarily relax the restrictions. Anutin’s Bhumjaithai Party has 71 seats, making it potentially the determining factor in the next government’s makeup.
Cannabis enthusiasts are becoming more and more irate about the clouds forming over their industry as the politicians quarrel.
According to K Lert, editor of Ganja TV, “I started this [Ganja TV] in 2019, hoping to be a media platform to educate people about the benefits of medical marijuana.”
“Now that everyone is concerned about children being exposed to cannabis, the Cannabis Act has not been approved to prevent that from happening. It is illogical.
Investors’ faith in a sector that grew in the year after decriminalization has been undermined by the legal uncertainties.
“I’ve already invested roughly $1 million. According to Aphichai Techanitisawad, 49, founder and CEO of cannabis retailer Grasshopper, “If it becomes illegal again, I would have to stop the investment and find a market elsewhere.”
“Rolling back the prohibition would have an impact on numerous industries, including real estate as there are more than a thousand dispensaries in Bangkok alone. Landlords would lose a significant amount of income as a result. Not to mention additional supported growing equipment.
Since Thailand abruptly changed into one of the world’s most free environments for its sale and use—a country that previously had severe penalties for possession—cannabis has become glaringly obvious.
Thais and tourists alike freely smoke marijuana on the streets as a result of the Cannabis Act’s failure to pass, and the market has been inundated with illicit imports, mostly from North America, giving opponents of the culture’s laissez-faire attitude plenty of ammo.
“Legalization has created huge opportunity. The owner of the Siam Land of Smile dispensaries at well-known island resorts like Phi Phi and Koh Lanta, Faris Pitsuwan, told Al Jazeera that he was “very disappointed” with the political game that we are locked in without the Cannabis Act. It must be accompanied by regulation.
The early joy that accompanied decriminalization has subsided for Kobboon Chatrakrisaeree, a part-time grower in a Bangkok neighborhood.
When there is no regulation to control it, Kobboon told Al Jazeera, “it starts to be smeared and tainted by sloppy business owners who sell to kids and people who just pull out a bong and smoke on the street as if they were in Canada.” “Thai society is still adjusting to it all.”
After a year of decriminalization in Thailand, Kobboon said he now thinks Pita wants to restart the cannabis market for Thais’ safety and financial gain.
He declared, “Ganja is a beautiful creation, not just for people to become rich.”