11 July 2024

The Lower House overwhelmingly passed the first reading of the Bhumjaithai party’s Cannabis and Hemp Bill yesterday (Wednesday), which will legalise the controlled use, production, sale, import and export of cannabis, hemp and their extracts.

373 MPs voted in support of the bill, with 7 against. 23 MPs abstained.

The vote comes as Thailand’s decriminalisation of cannabis and hemp came into effect today (Thursday), by which the plants, except for the extracts with THC content exceeding 0.2%, are removed from Category 5 narcotics list.

A 25-member scrutiny committee was set up to vet the bill within 15 days, when the Bill is to be returned for its second and third readings.

During the debate last night, Public Health Minister and Bhumjaithai party leader Anutin Charnvirakul said that the Bill is not intended to legalise the use of cannabis or marijuana in a way that would promote its use in public in a way which would cause a nuisance to other people, but is primarily intended to make use of the two plants for medical and health purposes.

He said he wants the two plants to be treated as economic crops, from which Thai people can make some revenue, adding “This is an historic day for all MPs to collectively liberalise ganja (cannabis), our ancient Thai medical herb and make it legitimate.”

Under this Bill, any individual can grow cannabis or hemp for household consumption, but have to register with the Thai Food and Drug Administration, which has launched a website and an app to facilitate the registration process.

Production, import, export and sale of the two plants or their products requires permission from authorities. Currently, only imports of cannabis for medical purposes, research and for official use will be permitted.

Sale of cannabis or hemp to people under 20, pregnant women, breast-feeding women and certain types of people, as specified by the public health minister, remains prohibited.