Smoking weed all day may soon be a legal reality as Thailand’s renewed push to decriminalize cannabis reaches a blazing climax today.
The Ministry of Public Health’s narcotics division will decide this afternoon whether to fully decriminalize cannabis and make all parts of the plant – including those with psychoactive compounds – legal for personal use.
Also expected are decisions on where people would be able to smoke up recreationally in designated “sandbox” areas. Although no clear guidelines or proposed regulations have been made public yet, the authorities are expected to determine age limits and other conditions.
The only exception made clear so far is that the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) level of extracts produced from domestically grown weed will not be allowed to exceed 0.2%.
The changes, which Public Health Deputy Secretary Thongchai Kiratihatthayakon said have major ministry support, will be forwarded to the Narcotics Control Board for approval today.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has lent his support to further liberalizing cannabis laws and his legal adviser, Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam, will oversee today’s meeting.
At 1pm this afternoon, cannabis advocates including the Highland group will rally in the old quarter near the tourism ministry on Ratchadamnoen Nok Road.
Weed proponents are feeling confident too: They’ve dubbed today’s rally the “Cannabis Legalization Ceremony.”
“We’re very confident!” the group wrote on Facebook.
If approved today, the updated regulatory framework will be signed by Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and published in the Royal Gazette for promulgation.
Limited use of medical marijuana was made legal four years ago, but expectations that it would swiftly lead to broader decriminalization were dashed when reform efforts stalled out.
The changes are expected to deliver on Anutin’s years-old political promise to allow people to grow cannabis and hemp at home.
“We have completed our task to push cannabis off the drug list,” Thongchai boldly said.
Moreover, FDA secretary-general Paisarn Dankum will draft plantation regulations, similar to the current rules for once-illegal psychoactive folk remedy kratom.
By removing cannabis from the narcotics list, income from cannabis-infused beverages that have cropped up at cafes and eateries nationwide in the past year are expected to generate up to THB7.6 billion (US$230 million) by 2025.
But while Thailand’s green gold rush has raised hope of a windfall for farmers and producers alike, prospects have been held back by the strict limits still in place.