Govt issues cannabis guideline for visitors

Govt issues cannabis guideline for visitors

Provincial officials to distribute handbooks

Ready for influx: Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul at Government House yesterday before meeting state authorities via video over preparations to welcome Chinese tourists who will visit Thailand from Sunday onwards. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Ready for influx: Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul at Government House yesterday before meeting state authorities via video over preparations to welcome Chinese tourists who will visit Thailand from Sunday onwards. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

The Public Health Ministry has issued the "10 Things Tourists Need to Know about Cannabis in Thailand" to improve visitors' understanding of what they can and cannot do with cannabis while they are in the country.

Thailand is the first in Asia to decriminalise cannabis use. As such, there has been a spike in interest in cannabis-based products and treatments among prospective visitors, said deputy permanent secretary Narong Apikulwanit.

One of the unintended consequences of the plant's decriminalisation is the boom in the recreational use of cannabis. The plant was removed from the list of prohibited narcotics in June last year, but to date, lawmakers have yet to pass laws to control its use and prevent its abuse, especially among youth.

As of now, it remains far from certain that the cannabis and hemp control bill will be passed into law before the House is dissolved to pave the way for an election later this year.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has insisted the decision to decriminalise the cultivation and use of cannabis was taken to promote the plant's medicinal use and create new economic opportunities for Thais.

Foreigners who want to visit Thailand just to get high "should think again", he warned.

But in the current legal vacuum, hundreds of cannabis dispensaries have mushroomed, and the phenomenon is well-documented on websites such as Highthailand.

As such, the ministry wants to ensure that visitors know what is permissible under the law. It has asked provincial tourism offices to distribute the English-language handbook to visitors and it plans to make it available in other languages, including Chinese and Russian.

According to the guideline, these are the 10 things tourists need to know about cannabis in Thailand:

1. Carrying seeds or parts of cannabis plants from and to Thailand for personal use is not permitted.

2. Cannabis cultivation is legal, but growers must register on the Food and Drug Administration's Plook Ganja application or the agency's website.

3. A permit is needed to use cannabis buds for research, export and sale and further processing for commercial purposes.

4. Individuals under 20 years old, pregnant and breastfeeding women are not allowed to use cannabis except under the supervision of health professionals.

5. Possession of extracts containing more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and synthetic THC requires permission.

6. Dishes containing cannabis are only available in authorised restaurants.

7. Approved cannabis-based health products can be purchased through authorised channels.

8. Smoking cannabis in public spaces, including in and around schools and shopping malls, is illegal.

9. Avoid driving after consuming food or health products containing cannabis.

10. Those who experience adverse side effects from cannabis should promptly see doctors for treatment.

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