Thailand decriminalizes marijuana, but not the strong stuff

BANGKOK (AP) — Marijuana cultivation and possession in Thailand was decriminalized on Thursday, a dream come true for an aging generation of weed smokers who remember the thrill of the legendary Thai Stick variety.

The declared intention of the country’s health minister to distribute 1 million marijuana seedlings for cultivation has increased the impression that Thailand is turning into a weed wonderland.

But for now, potential marijuana tourists will be disappointed. Thailand is the first country in Asia to decriminalize marijuana — also known as cannabis, or ganja in local parlance — but it’s not following the lead of Uruguay and Canada, the only two countries to date to have legalized recreational marijuana nationally. base.

The government has said it promotes cannabis for medical use only and is warning those who like to light up for fun that smoking in public can still be considered a nuisance, facing a possible three-month jail term and a Thai Baht 25,000 fine. $780). And extracted content remains illegal if it contains more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that gets people high.

That’s about the same amount as in hemp, a cannabis strain grown primarily for fiber used for industrial purposes.

Thailand is looking to make a splash in the medical marijuana market, the benefits of which are generally derived from other cannabinol chemicals contained in the plant. Thailand already has a well-developed medical tourism industry and the climate is ideal for growing cannabis.

“We should know how to use cannabis,” Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the country’s largest marijuana booster, said recently. “If we have the right awareness, cannabis is like gold, something valuable, and it should be promoted.”

But he added: “We will receive additional Ministry of Health notifications from the Ministry of Health. If it causes a nuisance, we can use that law (to stop people from smoking).”

He said the government prefers to “build an awareness” that would be better than patrolling to control people and using the law to punish them.

“Everything should be in the middle ground,” Anutin said at a press conference ahead of the decriminalization Thursday.

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