Thailand’s PM wants to outlaw cannabis two years after drug was decriminalised

The prime minister of Thailand, the first country in Asia to legalise cannabis two years ago, has said that he wants to outlaw the drug again amid concerns that lack of regulation had made it available to children and increased crimes.

Srettha Thavisin wrote on the social media platform X that he asked the Health Ministry to amend its list of narcotics to again include cannabis, and issue new rules to allow its use for medical purposes only.

Mr Srettha also ordered local authorities to suppress criminal activities linked to the illegal drug trade and demanded to see progress within 90 days.

Thailand Zealand
Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has asked the country’s Health Ministry to amend its list of narcotics to again include cannabis (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

It has prompted public backlash and concerns over misuse and crime.

Decriminalisation was spearheaded by the Bhumjaithai Party, whose stronghold is in the impoverished north-east where it promised farmers cannabis would be a new cash crop.

In the 2023 elections, all major parties — including Bhumjaithai — promised to restrict cannabis for medical use.

Cannabis advocates and entrepreneurs have opposed a radical rollback, which they claimed would be damaging to the economy.

Legal cannabis has fuelled Thailand’s tourism and farming sectors and spawned thousands of cannabis retails ranging from shops, trucks to market stalls all over the country.

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