Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction

Smoking cannabis, Chiang Mai, 1973

In Thailand, cannabis, known by the name ganja (Thai: กัญชา; RTGSkancha) is de facto decriminalized. As of 2021, medical cannabis can be purchased from licensed retailers, and households can grow up to six plants for personal use.[1] While parts of the cannabis plant that contain less than 0.2 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which includes the roots, stalks, stems, and leaves,[2] can be sold or used for food or cosmetics, recreational use remains prohibited and the flowers and seeds must be sent to state medical facilities.[1]

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.[3] Cannabis has historically been used in south-east Asia as an ingredient, a kitchen condiment, a medicine, and a source of fiber.[4]

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.[5]

The possession, sale, and use of cannabis was criminalised by the Cannabis Act, B.E. 2477 (1935).[6] The two most salient acts for practical purposes are the Narcotics Act 2522 (1979) and the Psychotropic Substances Act 2518 (1975).[7] The criminal status under the Narcotics Act was revoked in 2021, the first Asian country to do so.[8] Marijuana is clinically available as early as April 2022.[9] On 8 May 2022, Thailand's health minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced in a Facebook post that the government will distribute one million free cannabis plants to households across the nation, starting June 9. The move is said to be a step further into Thailand's plan to use cannabis as a cash crop.[10][11]


In 2018, Thailand became the first East Asian nation to legalize medical marijuana. The law permits and regulates the use of medical marijuana.[12][13]

Regulation of consumption[edit]

Under the new law, people with approved health conditions can use marijuana after getting a prescription from a certified physician. The new legislation prevents patients from exceeding and carrying on person the quantity of marijuana specified by their physician.[14]

Tourists entering the country can only have marijuana in a form approved by the ministry of health. Ignoring the related regulations may result in stash confiscation only followed by troubles and worries.[15] Tourists need to carry their medical certificates to show the customs officers at the time entrance to the country. Later, they need to get it approved by the FDA.[16]

Regulation of supply[edit]

Thai law essentially excludes all foreign companies as well as foreign majority companies incorporated in Thailand from producing, selling, importing, exporting, and processing cannabis. The move has been viewed as an effort to protect local companies from the onslaught of highly resourceful and modern technology equipped foreign actors.[17] The government has demonstrated a shift in its past view of the substance by shifting the licensing authority from the Public Health Ministry to the FDA. Replacing a case-by-case slow approach of drug approval by the ministry to FDA mass licensing mark a significant shift in the policymakers’ mindset. Under the new law, FDA considers cannabis no different from other lawful drugs and issue licenses adopting an easy routine approach. However, without FDA license marijuana is an illicit drug and anyone in possession of 10 kg or more with an intent to sell can get 15 years in prison and a fine of 1.5 million baht (US$45,000).[14]

Regulation of distribution[edit]

On 11 May, Thailand's first two full-time clinics dispensing cannabis oil for medical treatment were inaugurated. The move is in line with the government's intentions to promote licensed use of medical marijuana to address various health conditions. These two clinics are an addition to 25 part-time clinics that are operating since the legalization of the drug under the new legislation.[18] If this experience produces promising results, the government is all set to open two more clinics as a part of a planned nationwide network of marijuana clinics. [19] The people who were using illegal expensive medical marijuana from underground suppliers are most likely to benefit from it. In addition, the FDA has approved all hospitals of the Public Health Ministry to prescribe medical cannabis to people with approved medical conditions.[20][21]

Regulation of growing[edit]

The new narcotics code took effect on 09, December 2021. There will be no restrictions of how many plants each household can grow. Stems, roots, leaves and sprigs are not considered to be drugs, next year flower and seeds will be removed from the narcotics list. The limiting factor in permitted plants could remain capped for THC content. All cannabis products that normally have less than 0.2% of THC can be made and used freely.

Removal from Narcotics Act and removal from list of controlled substances[edit]

Cannabis was struck from the Narcotics Act criminal code in late 2021, and removed from the list of controlled substances in January 2022, thus making cannabis de facto decriminalized in the kingdom.[8][22]


  1. ^ a b "Thai Families Can Grow Six Pots of Cannabis Each as Rules Eased". 5 March 2021.
  2. ^ "In Thailand, Traditional Cannabis Cuisine is Back on the Menu". 8 April 2021.
  3. ^ 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 12 December 2018.
  4. ^ Blair, Eric (11 July 2001). "History of Marijuana Use and Anti-Marijuana Laws in Thailand". Thailand Law Forum. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  5. ^ Kapoor, Kanupriya; Thepgumpanat, Panarat (12 December 2018). "Weeding out foreigners: strains over Thailand's legalization of marijuana". Reuters. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  6. ^ "พระราชบัญญัติกันชา พุทธศักราช ๒๔๗๗" (PDF). Royal Thai Government Gazette. 52: 339–343. 5 May 1935. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Criminal Drug Offences in Thailand". Siam Legal. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  8. ^ a b CHALIDA EKVITTHAYAVECHNUKUL (25 January 2022). "Thailand first in Asia to move to decriminalize marijuana: Thailand has become the first country in Asia to approve the de facto decriminalization of marijuana". Associated Press – via ABC News.
  9. ^ Cannabis US company opens medical marijuana clinic in Thailand
  10. ^ "Thailand to give away one million free cannabis plants to households, minister says". KMIZ. 11 May 2022. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Explained: Why Thailand will distribute 1 million cannabis plants to households". The Indian Express. 12 May 2022 – via Yahoo! News.
  12. ^ "Thailand approves medical marijuana in New Year's 'gift'". Nikkei Asia.
  13. ^ "Thailand's Unlikely Embrace of Cannabis". 18 July 2019 – via
  14. ^ a b "Thai Law: Foreigners and the Medical Marijuana Law, Explained". 24 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Local laws and customs - Thailand travel advice". GOV.UK.
  16. ^ "Why Thailand's military is behind a 'green gold' rush". 12 January 2020.
  17. ^ Thepgumpanat, Kanupriya Kapoor, Panarat (12 December 2018). "Weeding out foreigners: strains over Thailand's legalization of marijuana". Reuters – via
  18. ^ "Inside Thailand's free cannabis clinic". France 24. 6 January 2020.
  19. ^ Setboonsarng, Chayut (6 January 2020). "Thailand rolls out cannabis clinic based on traditional medicine". Reuters – via
  20. ^ Somerset, Sara Brittany. "Thai Cannabis Clinic Sees Thousands Of Patients In Its First Week". Forbes.
  21. ^ Can medical cannabis in Thailand balance profits and patients?
  22. ^ ""ศุภชัย" ประกาศ ปลูกกัญชา ไม่ผิดกฎหมาย 9 ธ.ค.64 ใครโดนจับโทรหา "ภูมิใจไทย"" ["Suphachai" [Supachai Panitchpakdi] announced that planting marijuana is not illegal since 9 December 64 [2021]. Anyone who gets arrested calls "Pride Thai" [Party, aka Bhumjaithai Party]]. Thairath. 10 January 2022.