Is Marijuana legal in Thailand? Understand Thailand cannabis legalization process
There has been news about Thailand legalizing marijuana. You might also have seen photos of food and beverage businesses incorporating cannabis in their menu. Many of our readers have raised a lot of questions along the line “Is marijuana legal in Thailand?”. This is not an uncommon observation especially after Thailand initiated its push to legalize cannabis in 2019 – and there has been a lot of market movements until 2021.
Now in 2022, Thailand is starting to release details on the requirement and process which will allow households to grow cannabis/marijuana at home. Learn more about latest trends with us in this article!
Thailand passed the Narcotics Act (No. 7) B.E. 2562 (A.D. 2019) which allows the use of cannabis for medical and research purposes.
However, this does not mean anyone can freely grow, have in possession, consume or distribute cannabis. Understand restrictions and allowed usage according to the most updated Thailand drug law below.
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Understanding Thailand drug laws
The Narcotics Act of B.E. 2522 identified marijuana as a category 5 illegal substance. Category 5 includes cannabis, hemp, psychoactive mushrooms, krathom, among other things. Possession of category 5 illegal substances can lead to imprisonment or fine of up to THB 1.5m (~USD 50,000). However, with the Narcotics Act (No. 7) B.E. 2562 effective on February 19th 2019, the use of cannabis for medical and research purposes is now legal.
Footage from SCMP on 360 Cannabis Expo, Thailand.
Is Marijuana legal in Thailand then?
The short answer is NOT YET, to a larger extent. This is because recreational usage of cannabis is still illegal. Moreover, people can only use cannabis leaves and roots for cooking.
Can anyone cultivate cannabis? Only licensed medical professionals, state-registered agricultural community programs and government agencies can cultivate and possess cannabis.
The state-registered agricultural community program allows households to grow up to 6 cannabis plants each – with intended medical usage.
In order to consume cannabis, you will need a prescription obtainable only from a FDA-licensed physician. However, locally produced CBD extracts (with less than 0.2% THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis) are exempted. People can use these extracts for medical and herbal usage.
2022 cannabis legalization update
In 2022, the Ministry of Public Health is pushing for legalization of all cannabis parts. And this is seen as the last remaining hurdle for the full use and commercialization of cannabis. Previously, Thailand removed stems, roots, leaves and sprigs of cannabis from its Category 5 narcotics list, but kept flowers and buds on it. Under the new Narcotics Code, cannabis and hemp are no longer on the list.
However, one form of cannabis will remain in the list i.e. cannabidiol (CBD) extracts with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of more than 0.2%. This is not to worry the general public because most commercial use of CBD (in soap, cosmetics, supplements, etc.) has <0.2% of THC. This level of THC is deemed dangerous according to the WHO.
In January 2022, the government has announced a plan to remove cannabis from the drug list. This means they are allowing households in Thailand to grow cannabis at home after notifying the local government. This change however, still needs to be published in the Royal Gazette, after which it will take another 120 days to come into effect.
In May 2022, the government announced a plan to allow households to register and grow cannabis at home. The plan is set to roll out in June. Interested households can register through a mobile application “Plook Ganja” without having to go through any approval.
Now that we are in June 2022, the Thai government has legalized cannabis for cultivation and commerce. Marijuana and hemp were legally removed from the narcotics list effectively on June 9th, 2022. You still cannot smoke cannabis in public though. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay a penalty of 25,000 THB (or USD 780) or a jail sentence of up to 3 months. On the other hand, the legality of smoking cannabis at home or in private areas remains ambiguous.
There is some recent news about the application for cannabis cultivation at home via the Plook Ganja app. The excitement of the Thai people registering for cannabis cultivation caused the app to crash. Keep in mind that to use the app to register you will need Thai ID number.
Thailand drug law on marijuana and its impact today
There are state-registered pilot programs for households that are growing cannabis plants.
Restaurants in Thailand also can legally use some parts of cannabis into their cooking. For example, they can use the leaves and roots supplied by FDA certified producers in their cooking.
This development is rather new. So there is still some misalignment between the FDA and Ministry of Public Health on the usage of cannabis plants.
Regardless, you can see cafes and restaurants started using CBD and certain parts of cannabis in their offerings. This is happening only at a small scale today, not that mainstream yet. Some examples are IS AM ARE, Kiew Kai Ka Cafe and GTG Cafe.
The current Narcotics Act (No. 7) B.E. 2562 (A.D. 2019) will be up for another review in 2023. So, there is hope that the usage of marijuana will be a lot more open in the future.
(We also have a post about safety in Thailand if you are starting to feel unsafe about a country that is legalizing drug.)
Cannabis in Thailand Food and Beverage scene today
What kind of Cannabis menu can you find in Thailand?
Is Am Are restaurant incorporate Cannabis into multiple dishes like omelets, fried fish and salad.
At GTG cafe, they incorporate CBD into various drinks including ice milk tea. You can also get CBD cookies or croissants with CBD-infused butter.
Kiew Kai Ka Cafe serves Thai green curry with cannabis leaves and cannabis leaf salad. The salad has fried cannabis leaves served with Thai-style salad dressing (photo below).
Ordering cannabis infused snack online
Corona virus outbreak has made dinning out difficult in Thailand, hence many shops are now switching to sell items online. This trend has extended to cannabis and marijuana related F&B. We have tried a couple of cannabis infused snacks and beverages which we delivered on our door step!
Verdict on the question “Is marijuana legal in Thailand?
Based on the Thailand drug law, cultivation and possession of cannabis are still illegal except for medical/research usages. However, there are interests from both the public and FDA to legalize cannabis further in the future.
In 2021, we are starting to see more incorporation of CBD and certain parts of “certified” cannabis into the F&B sector – but that is pretty much all. Another update from 2022 is that government will proactively promote that almost all hospitals in Thailand now have cannabis clinics offering alternative medicine. They are also looking to putting approved medicines with cannabis extracts on the main drug list for the universal coverage scheme available to all people.
Keep a look out for more updates as both private and public sectors are making moves ahead of 2023 when the Thailand drug law is likely going to be revised again.
Check out other relevant posts about Thailand