Thailand Prime Minister Set to Reverse Cannabis Legalization, Citing Concerns

Thailand’s stance on cannabis has undergone a significant transformation since its groundbreaking steps towards legalization. Initially celebrated as a pioneer in Southeast Asia for permitting medical cannabis in 2018 and decriminalizing recreational use in 2022, the country now grapples with the repercussions of its progressive measures.

Following a surge in cannabis-related tourism, the proliferation of unregulated cannabis cafes, and an influx of pot shops with minimal oversight, Thai leaders are poised to backtrack on their historic decision. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin recently announced plans to reclassify cannabis as a narcotic by the year’s end, signaling a shift in the country’s cannabis policy, according to Associated Press reports.

The move reflects a broader trend of tightening regulations surrounding cannabis in Thailand. Lawmakers have already passed legislation aimed at curbing recreational use, reserving legal cannabis consumption exclusively for medical purposes. Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew underscored the necessity of stringent regulations to prevent misuse, particularly in light of the proliferation of unregistered cannabis outlets following decriminalization.

Prime Minister Srettha’s recent directives underscore his administration’s intensified crackdown on drug abuse. In a meeting with narcotics suppression agencies, Srettha emphasized the urgency of combating drug-related issues, urging authorities to demonstrate tangible progress within the next 90 days. He highlighted the detrimental impact of drug addiction, particularly among the youth, and called for swift action to address the scourge.

While the decision to revert cannabis to its narcotic classification aims to address public concerns over potential misuse, it has drawn criticism from various quarters. Advocates and entrepreneurs warn of the economic repercussions, citing projections of a burgeoning cannabis industry worth up to $1.2 billion by 2025. Prasitchai Nunual, secretary-general of Thailand’s Cannabis Future Network, cautioned against the policy reversal, highlighting its adverse effects on small businesses and consumers.

Amidst the ongoing debate, uncertainty looms over the timeline and process of cannabis reclassification. The contentious issue underscores the delicate balance between public health concerns and economic interests in shaping cannabis policy in Thailand.


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