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Shops Can No Longer Provide Cannabis Smoking Spaces In Thailand

By Hazel Norman

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Thailand is a very interesting place when it comes to cannabis public policy. Earlier this year, in June, Thailand made a historic cannabis policy shift and implemented a plan that allows every household in the entire country to sign up to legally cultivate low-THC cannabis plants. Thailand’s policy change marked the first time in the history of the world that such a public policy was implemented at a national level.

Since June, Thailand has seemed to struggle with finding its ‘cannabis policy identity’ and many members of the government have tried hard to push back on public perception that cannabis is legal for recreational use in Thailand. In an attempt to thwart recreational use of cannabis, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has announced new policies. Per Bangkok Post:

Ganja-smoking shops are deemed illegal now that the Ministry of Public Health’s new announcement declaring flowers of marijuana plants to be a herb requiring strict control has taken effect, the ministry warned on Wednesday.

The controlled herb announcement, dated Nov 11, was announced in the Royal Gazette last Wednesday and took effect the following day, said Dr Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, director-general of the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTTAM).

In addition to the prohibition of shops providing smoking spaces, the new changes involve prohibiting cannabis sales to people under 20, to students of any type, and to pregnant or breastfeeding women. Sales are also now prohibited through vending machines and via the internet. The new changes signal a turnabout of sorts for Thailand’s government to some degree.

Thailand’s Public Health Minister previously indicated that there is no plant limit for the government’s cultivation program and Thailand gave away over 1 million cannabis seeds directly to households to help them cultivate cannabis. The government is even giving out low-interest loans to help aspiring cultivators get their operations started.

Thailand previously launched an app to help streamline the process of people signing up their households to cultivate cannabis. An FAQ public service announcement effort was launched to help people understand the law and cultivation program. As we previously reported, a broad spectrum of government agencies in Thailand previously entered into an agreement to do their part to push Thailand’s emerging cannabis industry forward.

With all of that in mind, the scrambling going on right now in Thailand seems a bit bizarre. After all, a country can’t embrace cannabis and also demonize it at the same time. It will be interesting to see if more changes come to Thailand in the coming months.

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