Thailand To Reclassify Cannabis As Narcotic by the End of 2024

Thailand’s Prime Minister declared on Tuesday that cannabis would be reclassified as a narcotic by the end of the year, reversing a policy shift from just two years ago when Thailand was among the first Asian countries to decriminalize its recreational use.

This decision comes amidst the rapid expansion of Thailand’s domestic marijuana retail sector, which has seen tens of thousands of shops and businesses emerge over the past two years. The industry is expected to be valued at up to $1.2 billion by 2025.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin stated on the social media platform X, “I want the health ministry to amend the rules and re-list cannabis as a narcotic.”

“The ministry should quickly issue a rule to allow its usage for health and medical purposes only.”

Previously, the government decriminalized cannabis for medical purposes in 2018 and for recreational use in 2022 under a different administration. However, this rapid policy change has led to widespread confusion regarding the regulations.

After a meeting with narcotics control agencies, Srettha pledged to adopt a stricter approach to drug enforcement and demanded tangible outcomes in narcotics suppression within 90 days.

“Drugs are a problem that destroys the future of the country, and many young people are addicted. We have to work fast to confiscate assets of drug dealers and expand treatment,” he commented.

Additionally, he requested a redefinition of drug possession laws to treat the possession of even one pill as a serious offense, thereby intensifying enforcement efforts.

His administration previously indicated plans to enact a new cannabis law by year-end that would outlaw recreational use but permit medical and health-related use.

The exact timeline and required procedures for reclassifying cannabis as a narcotic remain unspecified.

Prasitchai Nunual, secretary-general of Thailand’s Cannabis Future Network, criticized the move to recriminalize cannabis, warning it could harm the economy and negatively impact small businesses and consumers.

“Many people have been growing cannabis and opening cannabis shops. These will have to close down,” he stated.

“If scientific results show that cannabis is worse than alcohol and cigarettes, then they can re-list it as a narcotic. If cannabis is less harmful, they should list cigarettes and alcohol as narcotics too.”