Cannabis in Thailand

Smoking cannabis, Chiang Mai, 1973

In Thailand, cannabis, known by the name ganja (Thai: กัญชา; RTGSkancha), is listed as a class-5 narcotic under the Narcotics Act, B.E. 2522 (1969-79).


Cannabis appears to have been introduced to Thailand from India, with the similarity of the Thai name to the Indian term ganja cited as evidence.[1] Cannabis has historically been used in south-east Asia as an ingredient, a kitchen condiment, a medicine, and a source of fiber.[2]

Marijuana had been a traditional medicine for centuries before it was banned in the 1930s. Laborers were known to use it as a muscle relaxer. It was reportedly used to ease women's labor pains.[3]

The possession, sale, and use of cannabis was criminalised by the Cannabis Act, B.E. 2477 (1935).[4] The two most salient acts for practical purposes are the Narcotics Act 2522 (1979) and the Psychotropic Substances Act 2518 (1975).[5]


Now legal for some medical conditions.


Possession, cultivation, and transport (import/export) of up to 10 kg (22 lb) of cannabis may result in a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a fine. Possession, cultivation, and transport of more than 10 kg is punishable by 2 to 15 years in prison and/or a fine. For the majority of people arrested for simple possession of small quantities of cannabis a fine, rather than prison time, is imposed. Narcotics police in Thailand view methamphetamine (Thai: ยาบ้า; RTGSya ba) as a more serious issue.[2]

  • From 2 to 10 years' imprisonment or a fine of 40,000–100,000 baht or both for disposal or possession for the purpose of disposal.
  • Imprisonment not exceeding five years and or a fine not exceeding 100,000 baht or both for possession.
  • Imprisonment not exceeding one year and a fine of 100,000 to 1 million baht for consumption.[5]


Cannabis can be found openly sold in bars and restaurants in certain parts of the country.[6] In tourist heavy areas cannabis is commonly found, businesses openly sell "happy" goods which have cannabis in them. Cannabis dealers sometimes work with police who shakedown customers and demand a bribe. Many tourists do end up in jail despite the relaxed attitude.[7]

Medical Cannabis[edit]

Legislation to legalize medical cannabis was approved by December 26, 2018, making it the first Southeast Asian nation to do so.[8]


  1. ^ Martin, Marie Alexandrine (January 1975). "Ethnobotanical Aspects of Cannabis in Southeast Asia". In Rubin, Vera (ed.). Cannabis and Culture. Mouton Publishers. pp. 63–76. ISBN 9027976694. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  2. ^ a b Blair, Eric (2001-07-11). "History of Marijuana Use and Anti-Marijuana Laws in Thailand". Thailand Law Forum. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  3. ^ Kapoor, Kanupriya; Thepgumpanat, Panarat (2018-12-12). "Weeding out foreigners: strains over Thailand's legalization of marijuana". Reuters. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  4. ^ "พระราชบัญญัติกันชา พุทธศักราช ๒๔๗๗" (PDF). Royal Thai Government Gazette. 52: 339–343. 5 May 1935. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Criminal Drug Offences in Thailand". Siam Legal. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  6. ^ "Best Places To Smoke Or Buy Weed In Thailand". Archived from the original on 2017-10-01. Retrieved 2017-09-30.
  7. ^ Rodgers, Greg (2018-05-22). "Drugs in Thailand". tripsavvy. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  8. ^ Paddock, Richard C. (26 December 2018). "Thailand to Allow Medical Marijuana, a First in Southeast Asia". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 December 2018.