Thailand’s new Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, said her government would “rectify” the country’s cannabis policy and limit its use for medical purposes within six months.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Mr. Thavisin, who was elected in August, said it was necessary to “rewrite the law” to stop the widespread sale of recreational cannabis.
“The drug problem has become widespread in recent times,” he said in the interview.
Thailand moved from having some of the strictest drug laws in the world to decriminalizing cannabis last year, after removing the plant from the list of narcotics. In a short time, the country would have seen more than 6,000 licensed dispensaries open.
Srettha’s government, which leads an 11-party coalition in the country, has promised to eradicate drugs from Thai society. Earlier this week, the prime minister attended an event where he presented a series of confiscated narcotics, promising to “decisively reduce” the threat within a year.
“The drug problem has become widespread in recent times, especially in the northeast and northern regions of Thailand,” Mr Srettha said. “We don’t need another problem to add to this one. »
The tourism industry welcomed the decision. A spokesperson insisted the unregulated cannabis trade had done more harm than good to tourism over the past year.
“You can now easily find a cannabis store every 200 to 300 meters on the streets of Pattaya, and 90% of them are not for medical purposes,” said Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, executive director of the group Sunshine Hotels and Resorts in Pattaya, at the Bangkok Post.
Cannabis was decriminalized by the previous coalition government to allow local farmers to capitalize on the potential income from cannabis as a high-value crop, and to advance research into medical use. However, the lack of additional regulation allowed cannabis sales to the public to flourish, while farmers complained that the majority of cannabis on sale was imported illegally.
Despite the new Prime Minister’s strong speech, the Thai cannabis industry, which is in its infancy, is not shaken. Poonwarit Wangpatravanich, president of the Phuket Cannabis Association, seems to welcome some form of legal control. “Cannabis is here to stay, but its status is not yet clear. »