Thailand’s narcotics board has announced it will delist cannabis, making it the first country in Southeast Asia to take a permissive stance. Following the kingdom’s decision to sanction medical use of marijuana in 2018, the latest relaxation in the rules opens up a range of new opportunities, and the tourism landscape is already changing to a shade of green.
But what exactly are the new rules, and how do they affect travellers in Thailand? In this article, we answer some of the biggest questions surrounding cannabis in Thailand, and outline some useful dos and don’ts for travellers intending to get high in the Land of Smiles.
When and how did the law change?
On 9 June 2022, cannabis was officially delisted from the Category 5 list of narcotics by the Royal Gazette in Thailand. This means people are legally allowed to cultivate and use cannabis.
Who is allowed to use cannabis under the new rules?
Anyone over the age of 20 is legally allowed to consume cannabis in Thailand, provided they are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
Does that mean tourists can freely smoke weed on the street?
Not exactly. The new law allows people to smoke inside a residence, while cannabis in food can be consumed in licensed restaurants. As with alcohol, so long as cannabis users are discreet and respectful of local customs, they should be ok.
What are some behaviours to avoid?
It is not permitted to smoke in public places such as schools, malls and temples. Anyone caught doing so could be hit with a 25,000 baht (US$ 750) fine and a three-month prison sentence.
What else remains prohibited?
Importantly, it’s still not permitted to bring cannabis in or out of the country. Tourists cannot enter or leave Thailand in possession of any part of the plant or seeds.
Where is cannabis available in Thailand?
Since the downgrade in legal classification, more than 5,000 weed stores have sprung up across the country, as local supply rises to meet international demand. Here, travellers can buy pre-rolled joints, buds, edibles, cannabis-infused foods and CBD oil.
The legalisation of cannabis is already proving to be a major fillip to tourism in Thailand, with many operators cashing in on the so-called ‘stoner boom’. Panorama Destination would like to remind all clients and partners that, although the laws may have changed, it is still important to tread carefully and be respectful of local customs.
In recent months, various government amendments to the laws have muddied the waters slightly, and there is still plenty of debate about what should and should not be permitted. Kitty Chopaka is an independent cannabis advocate based in Bangkok. She says that “Since legalisation, no one really knows whether we have the correct information.” As the rules are likely to change, travellers are advised to check the latest information before they visit Thailand, and act accordingly.
Mendel Menachem works at a cannabis information hub called High Thailand. As he explains: “people who live here and use [cannabis] appropriately and responsibly would hope that our guests and visitors will respect Thailand and the people around them and do things responsibly.”