Holding weed – and using it – on track to be legal in 10 more days

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on May 27 in a Public Health Ministry photo. Background: Craig Bak
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on May 27 in a Public Health Ministry photo. Background: Craig Bak

With cannabis possession on track to no longer be illegal in 10 days and parliament days away from permitting its consumption, Thailand’s top health official reminded the nation that it should really only use it “in good conscience.”

As parliament prepares to take up a bill regulating consumption June 8 – one day before weed possession is no longer illegal on June 9 – Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul put a fine point on the “de facto” aspect of legalization yesterday by reiterating that it should only be used for legitimate reasons such as personal health as he signed agreements with various related agencies.

After acting to decriminalize cannabis in January, a process that completes June 9, lawmakers must pass legislation enabling its use. 

A lawmaker in Anutin’s party stressed the importance of acting by June 9, ostensibly to avoid a period in which possession is legal but consumption is unregulated.

“This will be an urgent matter to consider so that we can enact the law as soon as possible,” said Bhumjaitai Party MP Supachai Jaisamut. On June 8, the parliamentary session has been extended two hours to 9pm to accommodate the debate.

Yes, Thailand, you will be able to smoke potent weed at home

Under the proposed legislation, people would be allowed to grow marijuana at home, and consume it in private. Whether the definition of private extends beyond the home to private venues has yet to be settled.

Those wanting to grow cannabis at home will be advised to register with a government app called Plook Ganja (“Grow Weed”).

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul poses for a photo to promote the ‘Plook Ganja’ application. Photo: Thai Health Reform Foundation

Straddling a message that is both pro-cannabis without seeming to encourage its recreational use, Anutin has repeatedly reminded folks to use marijuana “the right way” and be “vigilant about misuse.”

While the government won’t go as far as to green light lighting up just for fun, the legal distinction is an academic one.

“Technically, the government doesn’t endorse recreational use such as smoking, but if you are growing cannabis at home for personal use for cooking or whatnot; if you’re going to cut the flower or process it, then the government won’t be able to monitor you,” said Arun Avery, one of the founders of weed advocacy Highland who sits on the board of a cannabis research facility at Udon Thani Cancer Hospital.

Despite widespread confusion, the proposed bill includes no cap on the potency of weed consumed, only a de facto ban on producing extracts via a limit of 0.2% on secondary products such as oils or hashish.

While people may be able to walk around with marijuana in their pocket, lighting up in public is likely to be an issue, even if possession is no longer a crime.

Smoking weed in public could be reported and prosecuted as a public nuisance because of the “bad smell,” according to Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director of the Disease Control Department. He said he would propose such a rule as an amendment to the bill.

High spirits: Thai stoners celebrate legal weed smoking (Photos)

Anutin said the newly inked agreements are meant to encourage the diversity and market value of weed cultivation. 

Those wishing to cultivate weed for commercial purposes will also be “highly encouraged” to register with Plook Ganja. The app is not yet listed in either the Android or iOS app stores.

The agencies signing the agreement include the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, the Mass Communication Organization of Thailand, The Medical Council of Thailand, and Thai Traditional Medical Council, Royal Thai Police, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board and the Food and Drug Administration.


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High spirits: Thai stoners celebrate legal weed smoking (Photos)

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