Thailand’s cannabis industry fluctuated considerably in 2022, going from waiting for legalization to requiring prohibition by the end of the year
Thailand began 2022 with the rosy hope of making cannabis completely legal. However, as the year draws to a close, calls to put marijuana back on the drug list grow louder and louder writes Thai Public Broadcasting.
The controversy over the legalization of marijuana in Thailand
Over the past few months, both sides of the marijuana legalization controversy have fiercely fought over whether Thailand’s policy on the herb is headed in the right direction.
Critics suggest that the government consider repealing the concept itself before more damage is done. Especially since there is no specific law that comprehensively regulates the use of cannabis.
At the moment, MPs are still furiously debating every article of Thailand’s 95-article marijuana bill under the scrutiny of the media, the public and several medical groups. Even if the bill passes, it will take several more months for it to go into effect.
A roller coaster year for marijuana in Thailand
At the beginning of this year, all was well on the cannabis front. Investors were preparing their business plans to make money from products containing cannabis, including food, beverages and even cosmetics.
Farmers also hoped to get rich, or at least make a good income from growing the plant, which had long been considered a drug in Thailand.
The public was also excited, especially those who wanted to know what it was like to smoke marijuana. People behind bars for cannabis-related crimes expected to be released soon. Once cannabis was decriminalized, they could go free.
Thailand legalized marijuana for medical use in 2019, but people continued to be arrested and convicted on cannabis-related charges because it was still considered a controlled substance under several laws.
For example, under the Drug Code, cannabis was banned until Dec. 9, 2021.
In February of this year, the Department of Health issued a regulation legalizing all parts of the plant. The ruling went into effect June 9, paving the way for marijuana to become completely legal.
As of June 9, businesses began making their products with cannabis in them, including food and beverages. Thanks to this sweeping ruling, stores selling marijuana began popping up all over the country, and some grocery stores have expanded their marijuana offerings.
But there are growing concerns that the legalization of cannabis in Thailand could lead to the free trade and consumption of marijuana by people who may not fully understand the harmful effects of its use. Doctors say cannabis affects people’s intelligence, thinking and emotions.
Although Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says the government has no policy encouraging recreational marijuana use, critics say his party’s Bumyajtai plan to decriminalize marijuana is just that.
In response to criticism, various government agencies have introduced new rules to control marijuana use. The Department of Health, for example, recently announced that the inflorescences of the cannabis plant are a controlled substance. Following this announcement, ministry officials, backed by police, arrested several vendors in Bangkok’s Thong Lor district for selling marijuana without a permit.
Due to these events, the cannabis industry has lost much of its luster. Gunkul Engineering, whose subsidiary GK Hemp Group (GKHG) has invested in the cannabis and cannabis industry, has watched their stock price jump like a roller coaster.
The company’s stock rose from 5.6 baht on the last trading day of 2021 to 5.85 baht on Jan. 4. By Feb. 1, the stock peaked at 7.2 baht, but began to fluctuate sharply and settled at 6.05 baht on June 8, when cannabis was declared legal. However, the stock began to fluctuate again when the future of the industry came into question. In December, the price did not rise above 5.6 baht.
Marijuana is legal in Thailand, but under control
The Bumyajtai Party, a key partner in the ruling coalition, insists that the party will never back down from its policy of legalizing marijuana. Several agencies under the Ministry of Health, such as the Food and Drug Administration, have also supported marijuana use.
These agencies have assured the public that if the marijuana bill passes, Thailand will be able to better control marijuana use. The bill is still on its second reading in the House of Representatives.
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