What kind of Cannabis is legal in Thailand?
For the longest time, Thailand held the reputation of having some of the harshest laws on cannabis. That, however, has started to change since the news and development of legal CBD started to trend in the country.
If you are living in Thailand, then chances are you might have seen local restaurants and food outlets selling cannabis-infused beverages and edibles pop up in the last year or so.
This has primarily got to do with the Thai Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), and the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has taken strides to deregulate cannabis and hemp plants.
Let’s take a look.
CBD vs. THC – differences that pave way for regulation
Before we dive into the legality of cannabis in Thailand, we need to quickly glance at CBD and THC – the most known cannabinoids found in weed plants.
THC, also known as Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the compound that gets you high when you smoke weed. This cannabinoid, found in significant quantities in the cannabis plant, is known for its psychoactive properties and is responsible for the high sensation that gets people so crazy about “pot”.
On the other hand, CBD is the much more mellow, more laid-back counterpart of THC. It also comprises a significant portion of the cannabis plant and is known for its incredible, proven health benefits ranging from treating stress and anxiety to alleviating pain, inflammation, improving sleep quality, treating seizures, and much more.
More importantly, CBD does not get you high as it is non-psychoactive.
The reason behind this
One of the reasons why cannabis is still controlled and regulated heavily in many parts of the world is owing to the psychoactive nature of THC. Case in point, the American Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) has categorised marihuana as a Schedule I drug – effectively putting it in the same category as heroin, LSD, and Ecstacy. Many countries, among Thailand, have copied the American categorisation without taking cultural or geographical aspects in regard, for winning some easy buddy-points with the Americans.
Weed, marijuana, Mary Jane – they are all swept together under the blanket without fully differentiating and exploring the advantages and uses of various cannabinoids.
But this is changing, thanks to the advent of medical marijuana. Researchers and policymakers realise the potential health benefits of endocannabinoids, thus paving the way for relaxed regulations on certain aspects.
The legality of Cannabis in Thailand – A timeline
Now that we have a brief background let’s go deeper into the latest updates of marijuana laws in Thailand.
There are three key developments to note:
1. Medical marijuana becomes legal
In 2019, Thailand legalised the medical use of cannabis in the country. In other words, medical marijuana became legal in Thailand and can now be prescribed as a treatment by state-run hospitals and other registered facilities to treat a host of issues in patients.
However, the laws were still a bit murky when coming into effect, with patients requiring prescriptions from doctors to avail the benefits. There were also concerns about the efficacy of the products.
2. Classification of cannabis in Narcotics Act changes
In December 2020, the Thai FDA amended the definition of Category 5 narcotics under the Narcotics Act. As per the Thai Narcotics Act B.E. 2522 (1976), cannabis is classified under Category 5.
The latest notification by the MoPH referred to as narcotics B.E. 2563 (2020) (“the New Notification“), introduced the following provision for cannabis plants for medical and research purposes:
“Full exploitation of certain parts of cannabis or hemp plants such as bark, trunk, fibre, stem and root of cannabis and hemp; leaves without shoot tip and flowers of cannabis and hemp; cannabis and hemp extracts containing CBD and containing THC not exceeding 0.2% by weight; cannabis and hemp residues after extraction containing THC not exceeding 0.2% by weight; and hemp seed, hemp seed oil, or hemp seed extracts.”
To put it differently, the parts above of the cannabis/hemp plant are no longer classified as Cat 5 narcotics as per Thai Laws. This was a very important step in the direction of the legalization of CBD.
In fact, these parts of the plant can now be used to understand the viability of cannabis and its life-altering benefits. The law also has allowed for the sale, production and possession of hemp and cannabis.
3. Notifications under the Food Act that allow for the use of cannabis as a food ingredient
In February 2021, the MoPH issued several notifications under the Food Act B.E . 2522 (1979) that effectively permitted hemp and cannabis as food ingredients.
Also known as Notification No. 424, the new rules allow the production, import, or sale of food containing cannabis parts and substances, so long as they are in line with the amendments made under the Narcotics Act in December 2020 that we just quoted above.
This means food items containing stalks, stems, fibres, branches, roots, leaves without tops or cannabis flowers, extracts containing CBD and THC not exceeding 0.2% by dry weight, or residues from the extraction of cannabis containing THC not exceeding 0.2% by dry weight are permitted for sale in Thailand.
Popular products like CBD oil, CBD edibles, cannabutter, CBD gummies, and other appealing items can be sold and purchased in Thailand. It is precisely due to these developments that the beverage and food industry in Thailand is seeing a massive boom of CBD-infused products. These products also fall under the scope of legal marijuana.
So, is smoking weed legal in Thailand?
The answer to this is a huge NO, provided you are asking about the fun marijuana – the one with THC that gives the mental high.
This means you can not light up a doobie on the beach and enjoy listening to Marley.
However, there is reason to be hopeful that in the next decade or so, the country may follow the way of the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and other Western nations in decriminalising recreational ganja.
As for CBD products with THC less than 0.2%, they are 100% legal.
If you intend to consume weed with more than 0.2% THC, you will need a prescription from a licensed doctor.
Similarly, if you intend to grow cannabis in Thailand, which also happens to be permitted for personal use, you will need the necessary licenses and permits. You must also ensure that you are growing low THC strains to comply with the laws.
The penalty for cannabis
Remember – recreational weed is illegal in Thailand, and it carries severe penalties. So while products like CBD oil and edibles are sold online and offline, it is definitely not the case for joints/spliffs/buds – basically anything with more than 0.2% THC.
If caught, the penalty for cannabis varies as follows:
- Prison time ranging between one year to 15 years
- A hefty fine between 40,000 Baht to 1,500,000 Baht
The severity of the punishment depends on the quantity of cannabis found, what it was intended for, among other things.
The amendments by the Thai FDA and Ministry of Public Health have made it easier for the general public to access cannabis products, so long as the products follow the less than 0.2% THC rule. The only legal cannabis you can have are CBD products and medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor.
This marks significant progress – a paradigm shift in how cannabis is perceived in Thailand.
The local markets are emerging and breaking into the niche by capitalising on these laws and offering CBD products to the masses. As it continues to grow, we can expect more great things in this industry from the public and policymakers.
If you are interested in trying out fully legal and certified CBD and THC products, we recommend taking a look in our shop. You’ll find everything from CBD ice cream and popcorn to CBD oil which efficiently relieves anxiety, pain and alleviates sleep.