The Asia International Hemp Expo had a fascinating display of cannabis plants – a sight that was gracefully witnessed in Bangkok, in November 2022. Presided by Public Health Minister, Dr Cholnan Srikaew, the event was a landmark in the cannabis industry, marking significant developments in cannabis legislation.
This pinnacle event showcased the completion of the inaugural draft of the Cannabis-Hemp Act, a breakthrough achievement in the history of cannabis legalization. Dr Cholnan assured that the refreshingly new law would not reclassify cannabis as an illicit substance. Based on extensive refinements of its initial draft of 94 sections, the law now stands at a more compact size with around 70 parts.
Akin to an upgraded version, it addresses various public concerns and plugs potential loopholes that may pave way for recreational marijuana use. Cannabis remains labeled as a controlled herb in the law’s core, and any extract with over 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, continues to be put down as a narcotic.
The Minister firmly advocates the application of cannabis for medicinal motives rather than recreational purposes. He stressed, “Those who desire to cultivate cannabis, even personally, are compelled to acquire permissions under the newly drafted law.”
Contrary to the first release of the Cannabis and Hemp Law, where households could grow up to 15 plants for personal therapeutic needs by just informing the local authorities, the revised law mandates explicit permission. Cannabis outlets already in operation can sustain their business, but they need to align with the new dictates of the legislation.
A few additional restrictions would include refraining from allowing cannabis smoking within the store boundaries and not vending dried cannabis buds. This restraining legislation resolves the ambiguity of venues that cannot sell or allow cannabis on their premises.
Dr Cholnan stated: “We won’t abruptly close all cannabis outlets, but they need to adhere to the legislation. The new law won’t permit sale of cannabis buds for smoking, or even supply equipment for customers to smoke in the stores. Unlike earlier times, where usage was barely controllable, the new law will prohibit utilization of cannabis for recreational purposes.”
The somewhat hazy territory about the legality of smoking cannabis at homes still remains but is subject to public feedback. When quizzed about the need for separate laws for cannabis and hemp, Dr Cholnan revealed that while this concern has been voiced, the existing regulation views hemp simply as a form of cannabis with low THC levels.
He committed to establish a platform for the public to review the law and give feedback by mid-December. The public opinion window will stay open for two weeks, post which the Minister will assess if the law requires further fine-tuning before tabling it for cabinet approval.