BANGKOK – Thailand’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, voiced his opposition to the recreational use of cannabis while affirming his administration’s commitment to supporting its medical applications. Thailand made history last year by becoming the first Southeast Asian country to decriminalize cannabis, but swiftly implemented regulations to regulate its use, particularly among children.
In an interview with Thai news website, The Standard, Prime Minister Srettha stated, “Cannabis policy will be medical cannabis. On recreational use, I do not agree with that.” Srettha’s Pheu Thai party, which leads an 11-party coalition government, has consistently supported the medical use of cannabis. The Bhumjaithai party, their largest partner, played a pivotal role in the previous administration’s successful efforts to decriminalize cannabis.
While Thailand’s cannabis industry is projected to reach a staggering value of up to $1.2 billion in the coming years, numerous businesses have emerged in popular tourist areas to cater to the increasing demand. Prime Minister Srettha recognizes the importance of addressing drug abuse issues in the country and firmly believes that cannabis should only be utilized for medical purposes.
In addition to focusing on healthcare, Srettha recently unveiled several economic policies aimed at driving consumption and boosting the recovery of Thailand’s economy, the second-largest in Southeast Asia. One notable policy is the implementation of a 10,000 baht ($282.09) giveaway through a digital wallet for all Thai citizens above the age of 16. With a projected cost of 560 billion baht, these initiatives are expected to stimulate domestic spending when rolled out in February.
Furthermore, during his upcoming trip to New York for the U.N General Assembly meetings, Prime Minister Srettha plans to meet with international investors and business leaders to attract foreign investment into the country.
Although the recreational use of cannabis remains a contentious topic in Thailand, Srettha’s firm stance on medical applications underscores his commitment to responsible drug policies. As Thailand continues to navigate the complexities of cannabis legalization, the nation’s evolving cannabis landscape holds promise for both medical advancements and economic growth.
Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor.