Thailand Moves to Decriminalise Cannabis, Scrapping Jail Terms and Fines for Possession

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Thailand moves to decriminalise cannabis possession, taking the country one step closer to legalising recreational use of the plant.

Thailand moves to decriminalise cannabis, scrapping jail terms and fines for possession, Bloomberg reports.

After becoming the first country in Southeast Asia in 2018 to legalize medicinal cannabis, as well as permitting its use in food and cosmetics, Thailand takes steps towards decriminalising the plant’s recreational use.

The nation’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to propose that the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) remove cannabis from the list of controlled drugs this week. Once this move is approved by the board, it must be cleared by Thailand’s Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to become effective.

What does decriminalisation in Thailand mean?

FDA Deputy Secretary General, Withid Sariddeechaikool believes that this change in the law could enable people to access cannabis without the fear of hefty fines or jail time. Decriminalising cannabis will also allow individuals to benefit from the whole plant, rather than just parts of it, he continues.

As a Category 5 narcotic substance, possession of cannabis in Thailand is currently punishable by prison terms of up to 15 years. Despite the landmark decision to legalise medical cannabis in 2018, Thailand has retained a conservative approach to liberalising cannabis use.

Krungsri Research analyst, Chaiwat Sowcharoensuk explains that although the new law will allow flower, buds and seeds to be sold and used, recreational use will likely remain controlled. This is because cannabis extracts with significant levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels – the plant’s primary psychoactive constituent – will still be regulated.

This means that producers of cannabis-based soaps, beauty products and cosmetics are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of this latest step towards liberalisation and decriminalisation.

By and large, cannabis remains illegal in most of Southeast Asia, although South Korea followed in Thailand’s footsteps by legalising cannabis for medical use in 2018.

CBD –  on the other hand – is legal for medical use in Taiwan. CBD is also permitted for use in cosmetics (meaning topical use only) in Hong Kong and Japan.

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