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Thailand Issues Draft Regulation To Reclassify Cannabis As A Narcotic

Lawmakers in Thailand continue to move forward with their plan to reclassify cannabis as a narcotic, unveiling a draft regulation this week that would change the cannabis plant’s legal status. Thailand removed cannabis from its national narcotics list in June 2022.

Thailand’s historic cannabis policy shift in 2022 was supposed to pave the way for the nation’s emerging cannabis industry to become a regional and international powerhouse. Every household in the entire country could sign up initially to legally cultivate low-THC cannabis plants, which a reported 1.1 million citizens of Thailand have done.

At the time of Thailand’s historic change in 2022, the nation’s Public Health Minister indicated that there would be no plant limit for the government’s cannabis cultivation program. Thailand’s government also gave away over 1 million cannabis seeds directly to households that signed up for the program.

broad spectrum of government agencies in Thailand agreed to do their part to push Thailand’s emerging cannabis industry forward after the 2022 policy change. However, times have clearly changed, and Thailand is set to make a dramatic U-turn on cannabis policy. Per the Yahoo News:

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.

Researchers estimate that Thailand’s 2022 policy change resulted in roughly 12,000 cannabis dispensaries opening across the country. The dispensaries operate on three-year licenses from the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicines and employ an estimated 60,000 people.

The current draft regulation that was published earlier this week does not include any grace period for cannabis businesses in Thailand, and the industry will presumably be brought to a grinding halt. Medical cannabis will still be permitted in Thailand, although details about what that will ultimately look like remain elusive.

This article first appeared on Internationalcbc.com and is syndicated here with special permission.

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

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