Weed is legal in Thailand, but tourists are not allowed to smoke

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Thailand last week legalized the cultivation and possession of marijuana, but the new laws include regulations and exemptions that could dent the country’s image as a cannabis tourist paradise.

Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration has officially removed marijuana and hemp from its Category 5 narcotics list, a move that made Thailand the first country in Asia to decriminalize marijuana for medical and industrial uses. However, the country is not legalizing recreational marijuana nationally, and the Thai government is setting limits on the new policy. The new cannabis laws were created with medical, economic and health goals in mind, according to a post on the the Thai government official facebook page.

Cannabis has been a topic of interest in Thailand for years. In 2018, Thailand approved the Use of medical marijuana, making it the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. In May, Thailand’s health minister announced that the Thai government would distribute 1 million cannabis seedlings into Thai households once cannabis was legalized.

So what does this mean for tourists interested in planning a trip to Thailand? Will it be a marijuana wonderland like Amsterdam? Probably not. Here is a list of what you can and cannot do when it comes to enjoying cannabis in the country.

Thailand is legalizing marijuana — with gray areas and caveats

You can grow and trade marijuana and hemp products

If you’re visiting Thailand as a tourist for a short time, you probably won’t have the time and resources to grow and trade marijuana and hemp. Therefore, this rule applies more to Thai residents.

In early June, the Food and Drug Administration of Thailand launched PlookGanja, a phone app and website that helps people register their cultivation of cannabis and hemp plants. According to the Bangkok Post.

“There will be training and educational courses available for local residents to transition to commercial cultivation and other business opportunities,” Monique Jackson-Fitzgerald, co-founder of cannabis travel platform InnDica, told The Washington Post. “As their supply chain grows and regulations become more specific, there will be more growth from the purely leisure travel side.”

A local travel guide for Bangkok

You can consume some edibles and infused beverages

Cafes and restaurants in Thailand are allowed to serve cannabis-infused food and drink, but food and drink must contain less than 0.2 percent THC to be legally sold. For context, most US states that have legalized cannabis do not have potency limits, Jackson-Fitzgerald said. “However, bills have been proposed in some states that would limit effectiveness, and it’s an evolving issue,” she added. Places like Bangkok’s Highland Cafe were previously limited to only selling products made from parts of the cannabis plant that don’t get people high, but with new rules and regulations, the cafe has started selling marijuana. The Associated Press reports and lists strains such as Sugarcane, Bubblegum, Purple Afghani and UFO.

You can use marijuana for medicinal purposes

While medical marijuana guidelines for tourists remain vague, some of the information released seems encouraging. “In the next stages, both Thais and foreigners will have the opportunity to be treated with medical marijuana,” said Marut Jirasrattasiri, director-general of Thailand’s Department of Traditional and Alternative Medicine. said Bloomberg in an interview in 2020.

“Thailand is pacing the legalization roadmap and is really doing an interesting, strategic job, steering it towards wellness and medicine,” Brian Applegarth, founder of Cannabis Travel Association International, told The Post. “The announcement of these new laws – which essentially decriminalize cultivation and possession – is just another small step in the right direction,” he added.

Asia is slowly reopening to travellers. Here you can go.

Recreational use of marijuana is not permitted

If you’re planning on lighting up a joint in the park, Thailand isn’t the place for you. People found smoking pot in public in Thailand face a three-month jail term and a fine of more than $700. People who are “researching cannabis for medicinal uses or exploring business opportunities are welcomed,” Jackson-Fitzgerald said. “But I would caution pure leisure tourists to wait and see before putting Thailand on their travel bucket list.”

Ultimately, the terms related to cannabis could confuse tourists who wish to participate. A representative from the Tourism Authority of Thailand did not immediately respond to a request for comment on guidelines for visitors wishing to use cannabis.

“When cannabis users are making their decisions about where to vacation, it’s important that they take the time to actually understand local laws so they don’t accidentally do something that could get them into trouble,” said Tom Angell, a cannabis reform expert who follows marijuana legalization for Marijuana Moment, a cannabis news site.

In Thailand, Angell said, “there seems to be quite a bit of confusion about what the new policy allows and what doesn’t.”

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