Since the legalisation of cannabis in Thailand on 9th June 2022, there has been a significant rise in the number of specialised retail outlets selling cannabis products in large cities, with an astonishing 3000 new retail outlets officially registered. This number holds both small-scale Thai companies and foreign-owned companies that have prior experience in the Amsterdam and California cannabis industries. With the drastic drop in black market prices, these outlets are becoming quite popular even among local Thais, who previously hid their consumption. An extensive, largely unregulated business has emerged, and the northern city of Chiang Mai seems to be gaining a reputation as one of the world’s top cannabis tourist destinations, with over 220 outlets listed for cannabis products.
However, amidst these emerging trends, many political groups continue to oppose legalisation, with conservative Thai groups questioning whether cannabis users are the kinds of tourists Thailand should want, and the country’s vast alcohol industry also expressing concerns. The government has attempted to limit the harm by selling only cannabis flower buds for smoking, but it’s Cannabis oil and cannabis-infused food and beverages lack sufficient regulation to certify their quality and the presence of pesticides and herbicides. Although illegal, a significant number of people are using various forms of cannabis for medicinal purposes. For such users, including older Thais, cannabis offers an opportunity for pain management and the treatment of chronic sleep disorders.
Contrarily, Dr Chawanan Charnsil, the head of the Psychiatric Association of Thailand, observed in August 2022 that the recreational use of cannabis had become widespread since the legalisation of cannabis, posing a great risk to people with existing mental health disorders. While arguments based on anecdotal reports are incapable of sorting out the causal relationships involved, lower prices of methamphetamines could result in more people opting for cannabis. If the demand shift away from methamphetamines may prevail, it has significant ramifications, particularly in countries with high methamphetamine consumption rates. Thus, it is imperative for the government to implement more substantial legislation to control the cannabis industry and have data-driven public policy interventions to understand their effects better.
As a disclaimer, the opinions expressed in this article don’t reflect those of High Thailand.