What is the legal status of marijuana in Thailand
Marijuana is a Category 5 narcotic in Thailand with penalties of up to 5 years in prison for possession of amounts under 10 kilograms and up to 15 years for any amount over that.
But, Thailand did legalize cannabis in 2019 (the law was approved in 2018 but did not become official until 2019) for medical purposes.
Thailand is still in the early stages of developing its medical cannabis infrastructure. Legislation has come in spurts unlike in places like the US or Canada where a comprehensive set of laws or regulations allowed their industries to move quickly.
Thailand has also opted for a rather conservative rollout, both in terms of scope and control.
For instance, only doctors who have received special training in cannabis therapy from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) can prescribe cannabis medicines. This created a lag between legalization and when there were doctors even licensed to prescribe cannabis as training needed to be developed and doctors needed to attend this training.
Similarly, only certain clinics were initially authorized to prescribe and distribute cannabis which meant that cannabis treatment was for a time only available at government run clinics and via some traditional medicine practitioners (who mostly cater to rural patients).
Another delay in rolling out medical cannabis treatment was the supply of medical-grade product. Initially the only growers licensed to grow were research facilities and universities.
In fact, some of the first batches of CBD were produced from marijuana confiscated in drug arrests.
As of summer 2020, treatment has just begun to expand past government clinics but supply is still problematic. There are various proposals in front of parliament to create programs where farmers and ordinary citizens can begin to grow marijuana for sale to licensed producers but at the moment there is no mass cultivation of marijuana happening legally.
If this seems confusing, it may be because you’re framing this in terms of how marijuana laws changed in western countries.
Thailand is well-known for having some of the strictest drug laws in the world so they were starting from a very different place than most western countries.
Secondly, in most western countries, the issue was put to voters who voted in favor of legalization (many times, overwhelming in favor).
In Thailand, a smaller political party ran on a pro-marijuana platform and won some seats in parliament and joined the ruling coalition. So this change is being pushed from a minority political party without some sort of general mandate of the majority of voters.
However, overall, their success in getting new laws expanding access to cannabis seems to indicate that while many of their fellow members of parliament see the medicinal and economic benefits, they’re not quite ready to smash the accelerator to the floor on cannabis quite yet.
Thus the slow and steady approach that Thailand has been taking so far.
So if you’ve read this far, your next question is probably, “Can I get cannabis in Thailand as a foreigner?”
The answer is a solid “Maybe”.
There is nothing in the Thai laws that prevent it.
However, due to the lack of supply, many government run clinics won’t even see foreign patients while they still have a backlog of Thai citizens who are waiting for treatment.
There have been reports from some expats that they have been able to obtain CBD and THC tinctures from private clinics that have been authorizes to prescribe and distribute marijuana in Thailand.
It currently appears to be a matter of finding a clinic that will see new or foreign patients based on the supply of cannabis medicines available.