An incident involving an American tourist smoking cannabis in Phuket, Thailand has caught the attention of locals and authorities. The tourist, Angkhan Vorac Chhieng, was captured on video blowing what appeared to be cannabis smoke on a busy street, leading to widespread criticism and the launch of an inquiry by the Phuket Police.

In a video message, Mr. Chhieng expressed his apologies and claimed that the incident was a misunderstanding. He explained that he was using a smoke blower device to promote his marijuana business, without realizing the potential consequences it would have on Phuket’s tourism reputation. While his intentions may have been misguided, it is important to remember that cannabis consumption is now legal in Thailand, following the legalization on June 9, 2022.

Phuket Police took swift action by locating Mr. Chhieng through CCTV footage and ensuring that appropriate measures were taken. Notifications were sent to the Immigration Office and the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office to address the incident within their jurisdiction.

In response to the incident, local authorities in Phuket conducted inspections of cannabis merchants to verify valid licenses and sales permits. These inspections aim to ensure compliance with regulations and maintain the integrity of the burgeoning cannabis industry on the island.

It is crucial to establish proper regulations for the cannabis industry to prevent any potential negative impacts. This includes managing the odor and smoke from cannabis consumption to avoid causing any public nuisance. Health officials in Phuket have initiated a campaign to regulate the industry, conducting weekly random inspections of cannabis shops and venues to ensure adherence to legal guidelines.

Dr. Kusak Kukkiattikoon, the Chief of Phuket Provincial Public Health Office, emphasized the importance of licensed vendors advising their customers against smoking in a way that could inconveniene the public with unpleasant odors or smoke. Even smoking within cannabis shops is prohibited under the current regulations.

Phuket currently has 1,451 licensed cannabis businesses spread across various districts. The inspections are a collaborative effort involving multiple entities, including the Ministry of Public Health, Consumer Protection Office, District Public Health Office, local government bodies, police, and administrative organizations. Violations of regulations could result in significant legal consequences, such as the suspension or withdrawal of distribution licenses, fines of up to 20,000 baht, imprisonment for up to a year, or a combination of both.

Authorities are prepared to utilize evidence from social media to enforce regulations, including temporary suspensions and revocation of licenses for persistent violations. Compliance with regulations is crucial, regardless of whether incidents are witnessed directly or reported later.

Venues allowing smoking without proper authorization have been instructed to temporarily cease operations. Additionally, restaurants must indicate cannabis-based offerings on their menus and provide safe consumption guidance to pass inspections. Official permission or certification is required for local authorities and food vendors to operate.

Failure to obtain necessary licenses and certifications can lead to severe consequences, including potential imprisonment and fines. Establishments failing to comply with cannabis consumption guidelines could face penalties of up to three months imprisonment or fines of up to 25,000 baht.

As the legalization of cannabis in Thailand continues to evolve, it is essential to establish a balance between the growing industry and responsible consumption to ensure a positive impact on society and tourism.

As a disclaimer, the opinions expressed in this article don’t reflect those of High Thailand.

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