Yes, you can continue selling cannabis – just not to moms, kids, teens

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul with weed leaves in his eyes at a cannabis festival held June 12 in Nakhon Pathom province. Photo: Coconuts Bangkok
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul with weed leaves in his eyes at a cannabis festival held June 12 in Nakhon Pathom province. Photo: Coconuts Bangkok

A top Thai cannabis official has dismissed concerns that a newly issued order means cannabis dispensaries must stop selling or users must obtain prescriptions.

After several weed shops across Bangkok closed in a panic Friday following an emergency government order limiting cannabis and hemp sales, Marut Jirasetasiri, former director of the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, told Coconuts this morning that it did not make a medical prescription necessary and shops could continue selling, “with conditions.”

The conditions the order puts in place are the same restrictions in the draft cannabis bill awaiting passage in parliament: no sales to anyone under 20, pregnant, or breastfeeding. 

Here’s where to buy cannabis right now in Bangkok (Weed Map)

Lawmakers had yet to pass the bill on June 9 when weed was formally removed from the list of controlled substances. That created a legal vacuum, leap-frogging Thailand into the country with the world’s most progressive weed laws by virtue of having none – not even an age limit.

Therefore, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul yesterday signed the ministerial order listing cannabis and hemp as “controlled herbs” under the 1999 Protection and Promotion of Traditional Thai Medicine Wisdom Act. 

Those who violate the order face punishment of up to a year in prison and a THB20,000 fine.

Confusion stemming from a section of the order regarding medical use led to a number of newly opened dispensaries suspending sales this morning.

The Dispensary by Taratera in the Silom area announced it would stop selling marijuana until further notice. 

“We’re waiting to hear back from the traditional medicine department for clarification, just to be sure,” Pasit ‘Pong’ Chulasata, co-owner of The Dispensary, told Coconuts today. 

But Soranut “Beer” Masayavanich of the Sukhumweed shop said the order didn’t change anything.

“You can still sell flowers. People may be a little overexcited and may understand it wrong.” he said. 

The confusing portion of the order pertains to regulations on medical prescription of cannabis. It states that doctors, from modern medicine to traditional Thai, Chinese medicine, and folk – can prescribe cannabis and its extracts to patients. The order says their patients can use and own the prescribed cannabis for no more than 30 days. 

Marut said that did not mean a prescription is required.

Soranut chalked up the emergency order as more political sabotage by Anutin’s opponents, much as cannabis supporters blamed Gov. Chadchart Sittipunt for spreading fear and misinformation about cannabis deaths.

Even before the regulation came into place, a few dispensaries in Bangkok had imposed their own restrictions. Owners of Highland Cafe, Sukhumweed, and The Dispensary by Taratera said they would not sell buds to anyone under 20, pregnant women, or breastfeeding mothers.

To little surprise, a media misinformation-fueled panic has spread after the decriminalization of cannabis on June 9, especially as it came without any age limit. 

Two youngsters – aged 16 and 17 – reportedly required hospital treatment for “cannabis overdose.” Gov. Chadchart prematurely pinned a man’s cardiac arrest death on “cannabis overdose” despite ample evidence cannabis overconsumption is not fatal.

The Cannabis Act passed its first reading in the parliament on June 8, but is still awaiting final amendments and another vote. 

While waiting for the Cannabis Act to come into effect – it won’t be promulgated until months after its passage – the Royal Gazette on Wednesday announced smoking it in public can result in a public nuisance arrest. Public nuisance laws are the only legal tool in light of its full decriminalization. 

Responding to concern about its impact on youth, Education Minister Trinuch Thienthong yesterday said the ministry would issue an order making all public schools “cannabis-free zones.” The order contains a set of common-sense policies and were supported by Gov. Chadchart, who said the need to educate the students on cannabis is great and urgent. 

Additional reporting Todd Ruiz

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the day cannabis was delisted as May 9. A day that will forever live in infamy, it was of course June 9.

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