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Thai Prime Minister Vows to Limit Recreational Cannabis Use

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Thailand’s Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, has outlined a firm agenda to curtail the recreational use of marijuana within the nation in a span of six months. This determination entails planned adjustments to existing legislation and heightened restrictions on cannabis sales, ensuring its exclusive application for medical purposes.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg on Thursday, September 21st, Prime Minister Srettha expressed his administration’s commitment to addressing the current ambiguities surrounding cannabis usage. He acknowledged the prevailing availability of the plant for both medical treatment and recreational pursuits, underscoring the need for definitive regulations.

Tourism professionals have welcomed the Prime Minister’s pledge to eradicate recreational cannabis consumption within the upcoming six months. They argue that unregulated cannabis outlets have more adversely impacted the tourism sector than providing benefits over the past year.

Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, the executive director of Sunshine Hotels and Resorts in Pattaya, emphasized the prevalent issue: an abundance of cannabis shops operating primarily for recreational purposes rather than medical. He underscored how lenient policies and inadequate enforcement have posed significant challenges to the tourism industry, particularly in popular destinations like Pattaya.

Thailand made history in June 2022 by becoming the first Asian nation to decriminalize marijuana for medical use. However, the absence of effective regulation due to ongoing debates on decriminalization among various political factions led to an uncontrollable proliferation of cannabis retail establishments, notably in tourist hotspots such as Pattaya and Phuket.

Prime Minister Srettha stressed the necessity of rewriting marijuana laws to strictly permit medical usage, expressly prohibiting recreational purposes. While specific regulatory details were not elaborated upon, Srettha asserted a six-month timeline for implementing clear and stringent regulations.

Within the government coalition, there is a general consensus among the 11 parties that cannabis and its derivatives should be confined to medical applications. This includes the Bhumjaithai Party, known for its campaign to legalize cannabis. Anutin Charnvirakul, the Bhumjaithai leader, advocates for stringent control over cannabis use without reclassifying it as a controlled substance to prevent heavy penalties for users.

Following marijuana’s removal from the controlled substances list, its legal status in Thailand became complex and ambiguous, resulting in incidents where tourists faced health complications due to excessive cannabis consumption.

Efforts to enforce stricter regulation have been proposed, including reintroducing the Cannabis Bill in parliament for deliberation. However, the pervasive issue remains—the blurred line between medical and recreational use amidst a booming cannabis retail industry, prompting a crucial need for clear legislation and enforcement.

In conclusion, Thailand’s pursuit of revising cannabis laws to ensure medical usage exclusively is a response to the challenges posed by unregulated recreational cannabis consumption. The government’s intentions to reform policies within a definitive timeframe underscores the importance of this initiative for the nation’s overall well-being and its tourism sector.

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