Thailand to ban recreational cannabis use by year-end

STORY: Thailand will ban the use of recreational cannabis by the end of this year.

That’s according to the country’s health minister in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.

However, minister Cholnan Srikaew said use for medical purposes would still be allowed.

Tens of thousands of cannabis shops sprang up in Thailand after it became the first Southeast Asian country to legalize its medicinal use in 2018 and then recreational use in 2022.

The industry is projected to be worth $1.2 billion by next year.

However, critics argue the rules were rushed out, having been adopted within a week of decriminalization.

And now, the health minister says the aim is for a draft law to get to parliament by the end of 2024.

“Because this law hasn’t passed yet, anyone can go into a shop and buy cannabis sold in those glass containers and claim they need it for medical purposes. This is the loophole that we cannot control and therefore, we needed to draft this law to regulate that in the future. Those who need it would have to have a medical prescription to prove that it’s for health reasons.”

Srikaew also went on to say that without the law, cannabis could be “misused” and that it “could lead to other drugs.”

The proposed law sets a fine of up to $1,700 for recreational use with maximum jail terms of a year, a fine of up to $2,800, or both for those selling cannabis or promoting related products.

The minister told Reuters that under the new law, permits will be required in the cannabis trade and that businesses will be given time to adapt to the new regulations,

with existing shops being able to continue operations until their licenses expire and to switch to legal clinics if they comply with the rules.

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