Since the delisting of parts of the marijuana plant as a narcotic last year, cannabis cafes and weed dispensaries have become common in Thailand.
But confusing government amendments to the laws and continued debate about what should be permitted has created what has become known as “a weed Wild West” that could land tourists in trouble. “Since legalisation, no one really [knows] whether we have the correct information”, says Kitty Chopaka, an independent cannabis advocate based in Bangkok.
The ministry of public health has published a new guide, and “as long as tourists follow a set of a few simple rules. there’s nothing to fear”, says Mandel Menachem at cannabis information hub High Thailand.
So what is allowed, and what is out of bounds?
Who can consume cannabis?
People older than 20 and who are not pregnant or breastfeeding are legally allowed to consume cannabis.
Where can you consume it?
Smoking it can be done inside an individual’s residence, and cannabis inside food can be consumed at a licensed restaurant. Smoking marijuana in public places such as schools, temples and shopping malls can lead to a 25,000 baht ($750) fine and a three-month prison sentence. As a rule, Chopaka says, people should be aware of not “encroaching” on other people’s space.
There are more than 2,600 registered weed stores across the country, selling the cannabis flowers, pre-rolled joints, edibles with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level below 0.2%, infused foods and CBD oil. In cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya, dispensaries can easily be found. “But try to buy things from reputable, licensed places,” Chopaka says.
Can you grow it?
In order to cultivate cannabis, individuals must register with the country’s Food and Drug Administration. A permit is also needed to use cannabis flower buds for research, export or processing for commercial purposes.
How much can you consume?
There’s no limit for personal consumption, says Menachem. The ministry’s guide does, however, advise against driving after consumption.
What remains prohibited?
Tourists cannot enter or leave the country carrying any part of the plant or its seeds. As well, possession of extracts with a THC level higher than 0.2% requires permission that tourists are unlikely to have.
Menachem says: “People who live here and use [cannabis] appropriately and responsibly would hope that our guests and visitors will respect Thailand and the people around them and do things responsibly.”