Thailand Unveils Rules to Classify Cannabis as Narcotics Again

(Bloomberg) -- Thailand has issued a draft regulation to reclassify cannabis as narcotics from next year as Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s government seeks to clamp down on rampant recreational use of marijuana.

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The Ministry of Public Health will re-list cannabis buds as a “category five” narcotic from Jan. 1, according to the draft rules published on Tuesday. But the use of various other parts of the plant, including roots and leaves, will however remain legal.

The ministry will receive public feedback on the proposal until June 25. Health Minister Somsak Thepsutin said on Tuesday he will listen to suggestions from both cannabis advocates and opponents.

The draft regulation doesn’t mention any grace period for businesses to fall in line with the new rules. Thousands of weed dispensaries and other related businesses have opened across the country since Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalize cannabis in 2022.

Earlier this year, Srettha ordered officials to take steps to restrict the use of marijuana to only medical purposes. Cannabis advocacy groups and businesses have voiced their opposition to the policy u-turn, staging rallies and threatening a legal challenge against the premier.

READ: Thai Cannabis Supporters Plan Legal Challenge of Policy U-Turn

Liberal use of cannabis became a hot-button political issue ahead of the Thailand’s national election last year. Srettha’s Pheu Thai Party promoted a hard-line anti-drug campaign ahead of the election and pledged to eradicate drugs from Thai society.

--With assistance from Pathom Sangwongwanich.

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