Thailand to ban recreational cannabis use by year-end, says health minister


  • World
  • Thursday, 29 Feb 2024

Jars containing marijuana at a cannabis shop in Bangkok, November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand will ban the recreational use of marijuana by the end of this year, but continue allowing its use for medical purposes, the health minister told Reuters in an interview.

Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to decriminalise cannabis, initially for medicinal use and research in 2018, then for general growing and consumption in 2022.

The move has spawned an industry projected to be worth up to $1.2 billion by next year, as tens of thousands of cannabis shops spring up along with marijuana-themed spas, restaurants and festivals.

Critics say piecemeal rules were rushed out and adopted within a week of decriminalisation.

"Without the law to regulate cannabis it will be misused," Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said, referring specifically to recreational use.

"The misuse of cannabis has a negative impact on Thai children," he said.

(This story has been corrected to fix the year of legalisation for medical use to 2018, not 2021, in paragraph 2)

(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat, Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)

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