Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Diyahna Lewis
Is Thailand Becoming The Next Go-To Destination For Cannabis Lovers?
Cannabis connoisseurs can now add Thailand to their list of travel destinations. In June, Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalize cannabis nationwide. While the legalization of recreational marijuana use is still in the air, the latest development was an inadvertent result of reaching an expiration deadline for the country’s government to agree on new regulations.
Decriminalization of the plant is a signature policy of Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul’s Bhumjaithai Party. Thailand’s desire to tap into the growing global market is the primary factor in advocacy for the policy. According to The Global Cannabis Report, the cannabis industry estimates earnings that reach $103.9B by 2024.
“Today, society is for the most part knowledgeable, understanding, and ready to consume cannabis the right way,” Charnvirakul said in a statement. “More people will understand it over time.”
Warnings Against Lighting Up In Public
Although at-home growth and consumption are now technically legal, officials warn against traveling to Thailand strictly for cannabis. Announcements from government ministries are confusing, as Charnvirakul continues to deny recreational use being legal. Their primary focus, at least publicly, is to capitalize on the medical use sector of the industry.
“We don’t welcome those kinds of tourists,” Charnvirakul told reporters when asked about recreational marijuana use among foreign visitors.
Yet, almost as soon as the deadline passed – officially decriminalizing the plant – popular sites like Bangkok’s Khao San Road started seeing more cannabis vendors. Dozens of shops and stalls are popping up in hotspot areas, according to TIME. 7-Eleven is even getting in on the action with cannabis-infused drinks and beauty products. Restaurants are infusing marijuana into dishes such as soups, curries, and pizza.
As tempting as the idea sounds, public use still holds the risky punishment of a three-month jail sentence or fines of up to 25,000 baht ($705.82).
As for the future of Thailand transitioning to a marijuana-friendly country for recreational use, Charnvirakul gives an inkling of hope, saying “it might come in the near future.”