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

A cannabis advocate smokes a joint at a rally on Jan. 25, 2022. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts
A cannabis advocate smokes a joint at a rally on Jan. 25, 2022. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts

As cannabis proponents sober up from celebrating yesterday’s de facto approval of recreational marijuana use, their attention has turned to what will actually make it into law.

While personal use of cannabis will be fully legal under the updated rules heading to parliament today in bill form, advocates said some details, especially as applied to commercial purposes, remain to be seen.

“The fight is still not over yet,” Rattapon “Guide” Sanrak of the pro-cannabis group Highland said. “We have to keep an eye on the Cannabis Act.”

He’s most concerned about what rules will dictate commercial development, comparing it to the laws protecting Thailand’s alcohol monopoly.

The public remains confused by the rules’ remaining prohibition on extracts with any meaningful amount of THC. 

The adopted regulatory framework forbids THC “extracts” exceeding 0.2% – a meaningless amount when potent strains like Hindu Kush have a natural THC content of 20% and up.

Arun Avery, another Highland cofounder and board member of a cannabis research facility at Udon Thani Cancer Hospital, says that has been misinterpreted to apply to any and all weed.

“They are misunderstanding completely,” Arun said. “Cannabis extracts are substances derived from special preparation methods by removing plant biomass that may contain active compounds (cannabinoids) in a concentrated form.”

As anyone who has dabbed or vaped or lapped up THC would know, that means solids like hashish or liquids such as oils, waxes, and tinctures.

Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

Beer Surachet of cannabis activist group Blue Magic said today that he also believes the rules, as passed, legalize routine consumption.

“Is heat processing legal?” Beer said. “If it is, smoking and boiling weed would be legal.”

Arun says the distinction is largely academic. The new rules tacitly make recreational smoking OK – without explicitly permitting it. Similar to a “don’t ask, “don’t tell” arrangement, he said.

“The law will allow personal use as long as you declare your possession,” he said. “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.”

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

Wirot Poonsuwan, an attorney who has studied and written about evolving cannabis laws, agreed that, officially, the permitted uses will remain limited to things like treatment, research, and food production.

Step one was decriminalizing cannabis. Next is passing the necessary legislation supporting its use. 

Thanakit “Nus” Sookaram, a member of the Bong Party, which lives up to its name by selling water pipes in Bangkok’s Prawet district, said the public would still have to wait to see what comes out at the other end of the legislative sausage factory.

“What we can do or not do will later become clear when the Cannabis Act is unveiled. Everything is in the hands of the Bhumjaithai Party now,” he said, referring to the political party set to introduce the so-called Cannabis Act in parliament today.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul sniffs a marijuana leaf. Photo: Medical Cannabis Institute

With cannabis now stricken from the list of illicit narcotics, the health minister swept into power on a cloud of cannabis promises before losing his luster under a series of unforced errors managing the pandemic, said he would introduce the Cannabis Act in parliament today.

“There will be a little more legal process, but we will go through this together,” Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday. Calls made to Anutin and the Narcotics Control Board were not immediately returned Wednesday.

So once the law is passed, the king signs it and those changes are fully in effect around mid-year, will every day be April 20th in the streets?

Again, a pro-weed booster said that though people won’t be able to light up in the streets, they will totally be able to do so at home, as well in soon-to-be unveiled “sandbox” areas – a metaphor really losing the plot – that will likely be specified in the Cannabis Act. 

“[The designated areas] could be at Pattaya or Koh Phangan, where people can smoke weed freely,” Seksan “Sek” Auttasan said.

Importantly, it means safely transporting weed will no longer require placement in underwear or testicle tape. Avery noted that it’s likely that the government will cap allowable possession at a certain limit in the Cannabis Act.

Seksan said a perk of delisting cannabis plants is people will no longer risk arrest for possession. 

“They also cannot get arrested at checkpoints when police find marijuana buds or when their urine tests positive for marijuana,” he said. 

But while people will be free to grow weed and smoke it at home, they will have to inform their local government office. Anutin said it’s just a formality but encouraged people to consume it for government-approved uses.

“It’s notification, not applying for permission,” Anutin said Tuesday. “There will be no hindrance [from the authorities.] Just please do not use it in the wrong way.”

Additional reporting Chayanit Itthipongmaetee

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