The Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accelerated the implementation of the Cannabis Act which allows planting and growing cannabis plants at home for medical treatment purposes. Additionally, Thai authorities are reportedly considering including a cannabis ‘recreational’ sandbox.
For reference, a sandbox is a term used in Thailand currently primarily for tourism and relates to activities (currently mostly tourism-related) that would only be allowed in certain provinces, districts, or locations.
FDA Secretary-General Dr. Paisan Dankhum revealed today, January 24th, that there are 10 sections, 52 articles in the draft. The crucial reason for the acceleration was that the FDA now recognized cannabis and hemp as medicinal plants and economic crops, but they are not, technically, legal in terms of the justice system which has led to disputes between growers, law enforcement, and health officials. The administration wanted to use the best parts of the plants in both traditional and modern medical fields by extracting portions of them to produce various products such as medicine, cosmetics, food, clothing, etc.
“However, some restrictions on marijuana misuse must still be put into effect. For example, marijuana must be prohibited for people under 20 years of age, pregnant or lactating women. Selling for recreation is still considered illegal, however, consideration is being given for areas designated by the Cannabis Committee or “Sandbox areas”. More information will be revealed later as a ministerial regulation,” the Secretary-General said.
Dr. Paisan continued that domestic cannabis planting would be under quantity control and regulations as stated by the related ministries. The registration must be done at the provincial administration prior to the planting followed by authorities’ random checks.
Regarding the proposal of a “cannabis recreation area” sandbox, he stated that the draft would clarify the specific areas for the sandbox. There would be age controls restrictions and other regulations. Pattaya tourism operators and business owners, notes TPN media, have already expressed interest in making Pattaya a “cannabis sandbox” claiming it would fit the atmosphere of the city and appeal to many Pattaya tourists. No specific areas had been announced as part of the proposal yet, however.
According to the FDA, the term “recreation” means using the plant for enjoyment. The exception of sandbox areas had been previously indicated in the Narcotics Act No. 7 to support changes in the future. The description was also broad to prevent a law amendment, which was considered complicated.
At the cabinet meeting today, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul also mentioned the legalization of cannabis and hemp and proposed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O’-Cha as the chairman of the Narcotics Control Board committee to consider the Cannabis Act draft tomorrow, January 25th. Anutin has been a major proponent of legalizing marijuana and has driven much of the progress forward on this matter in the past several years.
If approved, the next step would be a public hearing which would be expedited as soon as possible, possibly by the end of February, Dr. Paisan said. After that, the draft may be amended before being proposed to the Minister of Public Health for consideration. Then, it would be submitted to the Secretariat of the Cabinet who would introduce it to the Cabinet and to the Council of State for consideration as law.
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