Marijuana in Thailand has been a big deal since the Vietnam War. Thai marijuana, in the forµ of Thai Sticks, became famous until the DEA persuaded the Thai Government to crack down. Now marijuana is coming back to Thailand.
The Thai Government sees marijuana as a potential cash crop which can benefit Thailand’s economy and is considering hosting the World Ganja Festival January 29-February 2 next year on 40 acres of land near Nong Yat Reservoir in Nakhon Phanom province. General Charan Kullawanit, honorary adviser to the project, said today that the festival is being held for the first time in Thailand, and will serve as a platform for people to exchange their knowledge of cannabis for medical use. The event will also help promote Thailand as a developer of top quality marijuana strains, which will contribute to the country’s economic growth. “We’re the main host. Thailand’s the main host. We’re deciding who we will invite. The association chairperson said there’ll be Chinese, Japanese and American guests. They once opposed the idea. We’ll invite them so we can listen to their academic ideas, presentations and statements. We’ll see how the event will benefit the global community.” The Festival covers academic seminars, technological innovations and business negotiations, as well as local wisdom from each province. The event will also feature a product design competition and music festival. The organizers say the World Ganja Festival 2020 will create new opportunities and provide a better understanding of cannabis and its legal aspects.
A party in Thailand’s ruling coalition has proposed a draft law that would allow Thais to grow a limited amount of cannabis at home. A senior lawmaker in the third-largest partner in the coalition and in charge of the health ministry, said the draft law would allow up to six marijuana plants per household, “The principle is for medical use, you can have it at home for ailments, but not smoke it on the street,” said Supachai Jaisamut. It would also allow the sale of plants to licensed institutions under the supervision of an institute for that purpose. The proposed Plant-based Drug Institute would have authority to purchase, extract and export cannabidiol, like the Californian model.
Even universities here are getting in on the act: Chiang Mai’s Maejo University has developied the first industrial grade Thai-breed medical cannabis, making Thailand the first ASEAN country to develop its own breed of medical cannabis, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul said during his visit to the university’s Natural Agriculture Research and Development Centre, “This project is a collaboration between Maejo University, the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation [GPO], and the Department of Medical Services since June,” he said. “We expect to deliver 2.4 tonnes of dried cannabis to the GPO to produce cannabis-based drugs by February next year.” Anutin said Maejo University has been working on developing outdoor growing techniques using organic materials and pesticides that can be adapted to community enterprise operations in the future. “We aim to perfect a technique where a household can grow six cannabis plants in their yard and use them safely for medical purpose,” he said. “Maejo’s breed is strong and of high quality that contains both cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, two natural compounds that have medical benefits in the preferred quantity.”
Until the 1930s Thais traditionally used marijuana to relieve pain and fatigue and now the country is returning to its roots. Medical Marijuana Tourism is a thing and Tourist Marijuana Tourism is on its way! In December 2018 Parliament voted to amend the Narcotic Act of 1979 in what it described as “a New Year’s gift to the Thai people”.
In August 2019, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul admitted that Thailand has not been able to produce as much marijuana oil as he promised. On the other hand, several local pharmacies have already started selling it–though you have to ask discretely. Clearly, this is a straw in the wind! Anyway, here’s the original news:
The new minister explained that marijuana should be made accessible for everybody soon, and “if it is well implemented, it can become a cash crop for farmers”. Dr Sukhum said he hoped to allow the prescription of medical marijuana in public hospitals by early August. He added that the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) should be able to produce 10,000 bottles of cannabis extract and the Chaophraya Abhaiphubejhr Hospital 5,000 bottles by then. The Phra Acharn Fan Acharo Hospital, meanwhile, will produce five formulas of marijuana-based traditional medicines made from confiscated weeds. By year’s end, there should be one hospital per province providing medical marijuana, more community hospitals gain permission to prescribe the concoctions in the second phase by April 2020, he added.
The first controversy with the legalization involved patent requests by two foreign firms, British giant GW Pharmaceuticals and Japan’s Otsuka Pharmaceutical, filed before the change to the law. Thai civil society groups and researchers feared domination by foreign firms could make it harder for Thai patients to get access to medicines and for Thai researchers to get marijuana extracts so the government issued a special executive order revoking all pending patents that involve cannabis to prevent monopolization.
As of 2019, Medical marijuana is legal in Thailand and the intention is for marijuana to be sold legally over-the-counter with a doctors’ prescription.
An overwhelming number of people have voiced support for decriminalizing the use of ganja (marijuana) for research and development for medical purpose, said Somchai Sawaengkarn, a member of the National Legislative Assembly, on Tuesday, based on the results of an opinion survey conducted during October 1-15.
Of the 16,431 people surveyed, 16,264 voted in support of the bid to amend the narcotics law to make it legally possible for ganja to be used for medical research in the hope that medicines can be developed from the addictive drug for the treatment of certain diseases. That’s why they are looking where to buy weed pipe. Of course!
Somchai said over 290,000 had logged into the NLA’s webpage to take a look at the bill to amend the narcotics law. He added that he and fellow assemblymen would hold another public hearing this month to gauge public opinions about ganja decrimalization for medical purpose.
With polls showing 72% of Thai people agreeing that marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes, senior officials are now urging the country’s rulers to hasten the process. Thailand’s Narcotics Control Board has suggested that Prajin Jantong, a Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, work on law clauses to make medical use of marijuana legal using Section 44 – which gives the head of government the ability to override existing legislation and issue new laws at will. Sopon Mekthon, former Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, says it would help a lot of people in need – extracts of cannabis oil can be made into various types of products to treat patients such as body lotions, suppositories, oil and other things. In the meantime, anyone who wishes to plant, sell, import or export marijuana for research or for medical purposes must file a petition with their reasons, the amount and other details to the Ministry of Public Health for approval. Otherwise, marijuana is classed as a category 5 drug and its use is forbidden.
Narcotics Control Board director Sirinya Sitdhichai said, “For medical purposes, they will be able to get the marijuana, but only on a doctor’s orders.” The drug laws were rewritten late last year and the revisions are on their way to the Cabinet. Nobody expects any opposition from lawmakers as interviews with the agencies involved, from public health to law enforcement, have found no public opposition. Officials are expressing a pragmatic approach to what would be the biggest leap toward decriminalization of drugs so far in a country whose policy long been incarceration and execution.
Just over a decade ago fugitive PM Shinawatra ordered summary executions of suspected drug offenders and killed 2,500 people. But the Justice Minister declared the war on drugs a failure in 2016 and said Thailand should embrace decriminalization and common-sense regulation.
As it is in most SE Asian countries, marijuana is still illegal in Thailand. Ironic, when you consider that Thai Stick is one of the most famous brands in the world, and that Thai farmers are among the most skilled. People who use it have told me that the stuff that’s available would be unsalable in California. Until pot is decriminalized, however, we tell our Concierge clients to either
- avoid using it altogether
- acquire it from a friend, and not a street dealer, or
- be prepared to pay a hefty bribe
- have the number of someone who can handle it for you on the spot.
The Thaksin Drug Drive: Some History
In 2003, then-Prime Minister, billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra declared war on drugs and open season on dealers, using bribes and threats to ensure that regional governors and police chiefs carried out the campaign. Officials who failed to meet their quotas faced dismissal and those who brought in a “major drug dealer”–dead or alive—received a million baht bounty. My friend Richard told me that among the dead was his Thai wife’s cousin, a poor young man who walked for three hours to Richard’s house to borrow 200 baht, then walked back to his village, where a drug raid was in progress. The police were frustrated that they could not find the people they were looking for so they shot the young man on the spot.
The three-month reign of terror left 2,274 people dead. The government and police implausibly ascribed the deaths to gangland feuding, insisting that only 42 drug suspects were shot by police officers—most of those in “self-defence”. In fact, the government openly encouraged the police to carry out extra-judicial killings so that the arbitrary goals of its “war on drugs” could be met on time.
Busted for Pot in Thailand
Here’s a recent letter to the editor that will give you an idea of how first-time farang marijuana offenders are treated in Thailand: 3 weeks ago, 7 policemen came in my house. Knock-knock-knock, “We have a problem with you sir, we know you use drugs, we were told you sell drugs also, are you a drug dealer ?” They gave me a glass where I had to pee, in front of all my curious neighbors. I told them I never, ever sold any drugs in my life (the truth) and, fortunately, didn’t have any weed in my house at the time. I smoked my last joint 10 minutes before they arrived (lucky me) so I was very high at this time and was sooo scared I was shaking.
I was not sure if I could refuse the pee-pee test. Anyway I knew I was screwed so I resigned to my lot and made peepee in the glass. The test was finished 2 minutes after, and without any surprise I was 100% positive to ganja and negative to amphetamines.
I tried a few times to propose some money to them. I tried to speak with the boss of the police squad (in civil suits, unarmed, very polite men), as it’s well known the policemen (on my island at least) are very corrupt. But they refused and told me they didn’t want any money. (a few days later I learnt that the same story happened to some other farangs on the islands, they were tested positive to ganja/ice the same day, before me, and they were able to give them money to avoid any further problems: 50,000 baht each. So I guess their pockets were full already.
They didn’t have a search warrant, so they couldn’t check my house. But I told them they could search my house, only if only one policeman came in, and under my watch, because I was scared that if they all came in my house, they could easily put some drugs somewhere and then accuse me. They accepted my conditions, and the boss of the group searched my house and didn’t find anything. During the 30 minute search he told me that somebody called them and told them I was a dealer.
Then they took me in their car, to the hospital, and proceed to another ganja/amphetamine test. And I was still positive. Then they drove me in the police station, where I had to sign some papers. They asked my some questions about where I buy, who are my friends, etc. but I didn’t tell them interesting facts (in fact they knew already everything). A Thai friend was with me to translate everything and to try to calm me down. Basically I signed papers admitting that my house was searched and they didn’t find something and my pee tested positive.
Then they put me in jail, where I spent one night. They let me in with my cellphone, and always stayed polite with me. That was a long night and I couldn’t sleep more than a few hours, on the ground, as you guess.
The next day I was wakened up and taken to the mainland in a court where I had to wait, handcuffed, a few hours for my case. I was with other men (all Thai) also waiting for their trial. The majority were ice smokers.
My trial last 2 minutes. The judge told me “Mister you smoke ganja? You are not a criminal, you are sick, and we will help you heal”. I was free to go, and 5 days later I had appointment in a rehab hospital, where I had to talk for 3 hours with a psychologist who had to decide about my case: keep me in hospital? send me to jail? let me free under certain conditions ? My pee was tested again and I was still 100% positive although, by then I hadn’t smoked weed for almost a week.
Yesterday I had another appointment, where I was told that I have to go in the rehab center every two weeks for 6 months and do 24 hours of community service. My pee was tested and I was negative, as I hadn’t smoked for almost a month. I was told that I can not leave Thailand for six months, cannot miss any of the 12 appointments. I was told also that the next time I’m checked positive, I will be sent directly to jail. I feel very lucky to be free, not kicked out from Thailand, and I will never smoke again.