is marijuana legal in Thailand_cannabis salad

Is marijuana legal in Thailand? 2022 update and outlook

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.

January 2022

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. 

May 2022

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.

June 2022

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. 

Is marijuanna legal in Thailand_plook ganja

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).

is marijuanna legal in Thailand_spicy pork salad

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

Thailand Safety Police Featured

Thailand safety for traveling and living in 2021/2022

Thailand safety examination and safety tips for living / traveling

As coronavirus situation starts to improve, many are now looking forward to traveling, doing vocation/workation or work remotely far from home again. We know that big metropolitan cities in Asia like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore are among the safest in the world. In comparison, big cities in Thailand are also quite safe but not at the same level as those cities. 

Thailand can be safe to travel and be considered comfortable for living. However, you will still need to be mindful of the possible safety and health risks. 

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Thailand safety level

As a Thai national, I see news about homicide and murder almost on a daily basis and this sounds scary. However, if we take a look at statistics – Thailand is considerably safe from a serious crime perspective.

According to the United Nations data, Thailand has been seeing a declining number of homicides each year. The latest number, which is as of 2017, shows Thailand’s level of homicide per 100,000 population was 3x lower than the global level.

Thailand safety intentional homicide trend

Let’s corroborate the earlier finding further. We looked into the data provided by the National Statistics Office of Thailand (NSO). In a year, Thailand (a country with 70 million population) reports 2 thousands murder cases and 15 thousands assault case.

According to the NSO, the majority of crimes are small crimes related to theft/snatching (~40 thousands) and cheating/fraud/misappropriation (~20 thousands).

Thailand safety risks

Thefts and scams are the most common types of crime. While these post relatively lower risk to your safety while in Thailand, understanding them does not just make you feel safe but it would also help you to avoid headaches and annoyance down the road.

Theft, snatching and robbery

Local people often perceive foreigners and tourists as wealthy. While dressing down and storing your valuables in a safebox helps – you should always be mindful of your belongings. For example, it is not a great idea to place your phone or wallet on the table while dining on the street side. Wearing branded goods or expensive jewelry is not advisable when you walk along the small streets or taking public transport. Thailand is safe for tourists and foreigners as long as you minimize the possibility of attracting crime to yourselves.

Cheating, fraud and misappropriation

Foreigners or travelers should also watch out for price scams. The most common price scams are the taxi fare and retail shopping price scams.

We do not advise foreigners (especially first time travelers) to take public buses in Thailand because of frequent breakdowns and also language barrier issues, so remaining options are taxis and BTS/MRT (public sky and underground trains). Speaking of BTS/MRT, it is very convenient to use and fairly safe. BTS and MRT reaches have become expansive but they may still not cover the places that you need to go to. In this situation, you’ll need to take a taxi. 

Unfortunately, many operators have “tourist prices” which are extremely inflated. Tourists who are not familiar with unit economics in Thailand could easily fall prey into this. To avoid getting scammed, you can do research on the pricing benchmark before you come to Thailand. Another tip is to use an app like Grab (Uber equivalent) that provides you with standardized pricing. 

One more pro-tip for you so that you can avoid getting ripped off when you first land in Thailand is to use the official taxi channel and instruct the drivers to use standard meter or (as mentioned before) just use Grab car! 

Health safety in Thailand

We know Thailand for its bountiful resources – this means plenty of fresh air, water, flourishing agriculture & aquaculture and globally renowned food recipes. However, to ensure your health safety during your travel or stay in Thailand, there are a few things that you should look out for.

Water safety in Thailand

In some countries, you might have the privilege of safe, drinkable tap water. However, we want to warn you upfront that it is not advisable to directly drink tap water in Thailand. Water bottles are absolutely safe for drinking – however if you are staying for an extended period of time in Thailand and want to reduce expenditure by drinking tap water – you should at least run tap water through a filter or a purifier before drinking.

Air safety in Thailand

Like many developing countries, Thailand suffers from air pollution especially in a big city like Bangkok. Back in early 2020 (before Covid-19), a lot of Bangkok residents were wearing face masks to safeguard their health against air pollution.

In 2021, UNESCAP issued a report stating that air pollution is mostly escalated by agriculture and forest fires which often occur during a dry season like winter. Keep a lookout on the PM10 level, which measures the air pollution typically caused by agriculture, construction and smoke. Another metric that people normally monitor is the level of PM2.5. This is tiny atmospheric particulate matter mostly produced by vehicles, refineries and other heavy industries. 

If you go to places like Phuket or Koh Samui, you should not worry too much about air safety. However, if you are going to places like Bangkok, we recommend you to look up the Thailand air quality index ahead of your trip.

Food safety in Thailand

Thai food is yummy! most people will agree to this! Moreover, food ingredients in Thailand are fresh and safe for consumption. However, to ensure your safety when travelling to Thailand, there are several things you should watch out for.

The first one is food cleanliness, especially if you are out for some street food. Secondly, food spiciness – you don’t want to get a stomachache in the middle of your trip after you eat something that’s too spicy than what you can handle! Lastly, be mindful of the ingredients and herbs used and whether you have allergy to them. For instance, Pad Thai traditionally uses peanuts topping, so please be aware if you have peanut allergy! You don’t want to end up in a hospital during your holiday.

Terrorism in Thailand

Back to a serious topic like terrorism. Terrorism is quite rare in Thailand, however there are 3 provinces in the southern Thailand that you might consider avoiding if you have a big safety concern. There is an on-going separatist insurgency in 3 provinces on the southern border of Thailand, namely Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. We have to mention that locals in those 3 provinces are still leading normal daily lives  and tourisms are still happening with frequent visits among Thais and Malaysians (pre-Covid).

Thailand Coronavirus situation

This is an important section during the Coronavirus pandemic. At the time of this blog update, countries in South and Southeast Asia had been hit hard by the Delta variant, and this includes Thailand.

Source: World Health Organization (WHO), updated on 17 September 2021

Any travelers should note that Thailand is facing yet another wave of outbreak after the Thai New Year holiday (Songkran) in April 2021.

If you are looking to travel to Thailand in 2021 during Coronavirus pandemic, we also have other posts relating to Thailand travel restrictions and quarantine procedures.

So is Thailand safe for traveling or living?

The short answer is yes – Thailand is safe, as long as you are aware of the potential health or crime risks. It is advisable that you understand them and take preventive measures before your travel. 

One more pro tip from us is to carefully consider where you plan to stay or visit – a good community gives you a head start from a safety standpoint. Apart from that, be sensible – do not wander around alone at night, always watch your belongings and be on the lookout for potential price scams – and you will be safe to travel and stay in Thailand.

Other useful posts about Thailand:

Thailand Coronavirus monk

Thailand coronavirus update and the road back to tourism

Thailand coronavirus update, vaccination progress and the return of open tourism

Thailand is one of most popular travel destinations in the world and December usually is a popular month. Coronavirus reduced Thailand tourist numbers in December 2020 to 6,000+. For your comparison, the number was 4 million in December 2019 – according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

Get an updated Thailand coronavirus situation and assess when might be the safest time to visit Thailand through our post!

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Thailand coronavirus update (as of 17th September)

Thailand is now going through the third, and its biggest coronavirus wave in the country. As of 17th of September, the country has recorded a total of 1 million+ confirmed cases and 10,000+ deaths (up-to-date number here).

The government has put in place strict measures like mask requirement, dine-in restrictions, and closure of entertainment venues. This wave is hitting all major cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. While the overall situation is starting to look better, anyone visiting Thailand or in Thailand should still take precaution. 

Thailand safety for both visitors and residents at this point of time very much depends on getting coronavirus situation under control. The pandemic is putting a lot of stress on healthcare system (read more about other safety-related information here).

The 2nd wave, which happened in late December until February, took about two months to get under control.

Thailand coronavirus vaccination progress

Thailand, a country of ~70 million people, has accumulated ~42 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to date. There are ~28 million population who have taken the 1st shot and ~13 million who have completed 2 shots according to official figures.

Vaccines available in Thailand are mostly Sinovac and AstraZeneca. The government initially prioritized medical staff, front-line workers, elderly (60 years old and above), and people with chronic conditions. Thailand was off to a very slow start in terms of vaccination. However, due to rapid vaccination in recent months, the government is aiming to have over 70% of its population vaccinated by the end of 2021, ahead of its reopening plan. 

Thailand coronavirus vaccination

Travel restrictions

Thailand has put in place travel restrictions for all arrivals which include obtaining permission, quarantine, insurance, among other things. Our post contains more details on Thailand travel restrictions here.

Thailand welcomes both unvaccinated and vaccinated foreign travelers. Vaccinated travelers now only enjoy shorter quarantine but the country is aiming to exempt vaccinated travelers from quarantine in the future. However, the government has temporarily increased the quarantine period for all travelers to 14 days due to a Coronavirus wave.

Thailand travel vaccination passport for tourists

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has announced a three-stage plan to reopen the country. This plan aims to cater to vaccinated tourists. 

The first stage of the process involves reducing the quarantine period for vaccinated tourists to 7 nights. However, this is already off-track due to the current Thailand coronavirus situation. 

Thailand is targeting Stage 2 to launch by Q3 (July to September), which will involve lifting the quarantine requirement for vaccinated tourists. However, travelers will still need to observe other travel restrictions. These travel restrictions include getting approval, buy the insurance, and procure a coronavirus test result (read more on our travel restriction post). Upon arrival, travelers will need to take another coronavirus test and they will be restricted to stay in Phuket for 7 days. After 7 days, they will be allowed to go anywhere in Thailand.

Stage 2 is well underway now, and the country is working towards Stage 3.

Stage 3, which should launch by Q4 (October to December), will replicate the Phuket model in Stage 2 to five other destinations like Krabi, Phang Nga, Surat Thani (Ko Samui), Chon Buri (Pattaya), and Chiang Mai. Bangkok is said to join the country’s reopening plan in mid October.

Which coronavirus vaccines are recognized by Thailand?

Official announcement states that the following Coronavirus vaccines are recognized by Thailand:

  • ARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (CoronaVac) by Sinovac (2 doses needed); 
  • AZD1222 by AstraZeneca/Oxford (2 doses needed); AZD1222 by SK BIOSCIENCE – AstraZeneca/Oxford (2 doses needed); 
  • BNT162b2/CORMIRNATY – Tozinameran (INN) by Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses needed); 
  • Covishield (ChAdOx1_nCoV19) by the Serum Institute of India (2 doses needed); 
  • Ad26.COV2.S by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (1 dose needed), and
  • mRNA-1273 by Moderna (2 doses needed) 

Should you travel to Thailand right now?

It is possible to travel to Thailand right now, but this is not recommended for your own safety due to the 3rd coronavirus wave. If you want to travel for leisure and you have been vaccinated – it might be best to wait until Q3 to enjoy the benefit of a Thailand travel vaccination passport.

Other materials for Thailand travel preparation: