Cannabis in Thailand
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. Cannabis has historically been used in south-east Asia as an ingredient, a kitchen condiment, a medicine, and a source of fiber.
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.
The possession, sale, and use of cannabis was criminalised by the Cannabis Act, B.E. 2477 (1935). The two most salient acts for practical purposes are the Narcotics Act 2522 (1979) and the Psychotropic Substances Act 2518 (1975).
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; RTGS: ya ba) as a more serious issue.
- From 2 to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 200,000 to 1.5 million baht for production, importation, or exportation.
- From 2 to 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine of 40,000–200,000 baht or both for disposal or possession for the purpose of disposal. If the quantity is over 10 kilograms, the penalty is increased to a maximum of 15 years and a fine of 200,000 to 1.5 million baht.
- 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.
Cannabis can be found openly sold in bars and restaurants in certain parts of the country. 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.
Legislation to legalise medical cannabis was approved by the parliament on December 26, 2018, making it the first Southeast Asian nation to do so.
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- Paddock, Richard C. (26 December 2018). “Thailand to Allow Medical Marijuana, a First in Southeast Asia”. The New York Times. Retrieved 26 December 2018.