UPDATE 27.07.2022 / 5 PM – The announcement and “order” was pulled back by the officials the same day at a press conference. As some suggest already this should be considered as “fake” news and scare tactics from officials opposed to the legalization- Welcome to Thailand – keep calm and smoke on.

A new government order instructs police to arrest anyone selling weed without “permission,” even though no such permission exists- however there is a application from the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine to register for a business selling cannabis related products- to which the order is probably referring to.

One of the people working on amending the bill to regulate weed said that the current free-for-all was never intended, and that yesterday’s order instructing police to “arrest and prosecute” those selling or exporting cannabis without permission was intended to close the legal loophole that has existed since legalization on June 9.

“Dispensaries should never have existed,” said a woman working on the Cannabis Act. The doctor, who was not authorized to speak to the media, opposed cannabis liberalization.

She said cannabis can only be sold at approved clinics, consistent with officials’ insistence it’s for “medical purposes only.”

That’s bad news for the legions of advocates and instant entrepreneurs who opened stores in recent weeks. Several dispensary owners said this morning that the health ministry order left them unsure what to do, whether to open their stores, or how to get permission to do so.

With cannabis recently designated a regulated medicinal, Narong Saiwong, deputy secretary of public health, signed yesterday’s order. No timeline was given.

None of the orders pertain to consumption; people can still smoke as they did before. Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who led the legalization charge, promised yesterday that weed won’t be re-criminalized. Some dispensaries closed immediately, while others took a wait-and-see approach.

Police didn’t know what it meant or how to prosecute violators. Col. Duangchote Suwanjaras, Thonglor police chief, said he and his team will meet later this week for “clarity” on the new order. 

He said, “We’ll clarify later this week.” “The Cannabis Act hasn’t been passed yet, so we must see which other laws we can enforce.”

As per the new order, there is no license or process for obtaining permission. Since cannabis is a controlled medicine, people can’t research, export, sell, or process it without permission. The order requires permission from Bangkok’s Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine or other provincial health departments.

The health ministry will notify the Royal Thai Police and traditional medicine officials to prosecute violators “for public order.”

The Cannabis Act should return to parliament by the end of August, said public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul. The bill would need royal approval if passed. While there was little organized opposition to legalization before it happened, the ensuing moral panic has been compounded by unforced errors and the lack of valid and useful rules.