Big fine, jail time threatened for cannabis shops with smoking lounges

A man smokes a joint on June 12, 2022, at the Thailand 420: Legalaew event. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
A man smokes a joint on June 12, 2022, at the Thailand 420: Legalaew event. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

Dispensaries that allow smoking on the premises risk hefty fines and imprisonment, health officials announced today.

Those operating smoking lounges inside their cannabis shops face a large fine, a year in jail, and loss of their provisional licenses face risks of hefty fines, according to the industry oversight agency.

Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, director of the Department of Thai Traditional And Alternative Medicine, said the prohibition enacted Friday was meant to deter accidents and medical emergencies.

“Currently, we don’t have laws that regulate the amount of cannabis concentrations in blood like alcohol, and we’re waiting for that to take place,” Thongchai said.

He said at a news conference today that smoking excessive amounts of THC – the psychoactive compound in buds – causes immediate dizziness and heart palpitations.

The only exception to the ban on on-site smoking is if a dispensary has a medical practitioner on staff. That can mean anything from someone certified in medicine, Thai traditional medicine, or applied Thai traditional medicine to a folk healer. Thongchai did not elaborate further on that.

Thongchai said those who violate the regulations could be fined up to THB20,000 or jailed a year.

Owners also risk having their dispensary license revoked.

The new rule doesn’t seem to apply over in the backpacker destination of Khaosan Road, where a designated smoking area dubbed “plantopia” has opened on the first floor of weed mall Buddy Group building. Sa-nga Ruangwattanakul said that the area complies with health ministry’s regulation by providing a ventilation system. 

A file photo of Plantopia on Khaosan Road. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

The legal loopholes surrounding cannabis remain today due to the parliament’s decision to vote down the Cannabis Act, which would introduce a raft of regulations.

 It has been opposed by prominent opposition parties such as the Move Forward and Pheu Thai parties for not going far enough to curtail recreational smoking.

Last week, the Administrative Court accepted a lawsuit by the Medical Council and opposition lawmakers who want to revoke the order that removed cannabis from the Category 5 list of controlled substances on June 9.

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