Thai PM looks to outlaw marijuana two years after decriminalization

The prime minister, who was the first country in Asia to legalize cannabis two years ago, said on Wednesday that he wants to outlaw the drug again due to concerns that the lack of regulation had made it available to children and increased crimes. Prime Minister 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. Srettha also ordered local authorities to suppress activities linked to the illegal drug trade and demanded to see progress within 90 days. After cannabis was decriminalized in 2022, it was initially said that it would be allowed only for medicinal use, but in practice the market was unregulated. This has prompted public backlash and concerns over misuse and crime. Decriminalization was spearheaded by the Bhumjaithai Party, whose stronghold is in the impoverished northeast where it promised farmers cannabis would be a new cash crop. In the 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 fueled Thailand’s tourism and farming sectors and spawned thousands of cannabis retails ranging from shops, trucks to market stalls all over the country.