Legal but confusing: Thai users unclear about recreational cannabis use

By Sirin Mungcharoen

Bangkok Desk, Jun 13 (EFE).- When Thai cannabis users celebrated the legalization of marijuana last week, as it was removed from the country’s criminalized narcotics list, doubts remained about the laws for recreational use among hundreds of thousands of people who registered to cultivate the plant.

Many advocates posted pictures of marijuana joints to mark the occasion, yet regulations about the use and sale of cannabis among the 712,666 people who had registered cannabis plants as of Sunday evening in Thailand, remained unclear, confusing recreational users.

“Smoking cannabis for relaxation to improve mental health can be done, but it has to be done in the smoker’s own home, not causing a nuisance to others,” read a Thailand’s National News Bureau article published Wednesday, a day before the law approved in February came into effect. The law also does not specify what can be classed as a public nuisance in the context of cannabis usage.

The regulations state that the cannabis sold must contain a maximum of 0.2 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s psychoactive component. However the Public Health Ministry said it never recommended smoking cannabis for relaxation, because it can harm them instead of causing health benefits.

According to the Thai FDA Cannabis Facebook page, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul also said Wednesday that cannabis use is for medical benefits and that recreational use is not the intention of the push for marijuana’s legalization.

The Health Ministry’s Medical Cannabis Institution wrote Friday that “during the first phase cannabis was removed from the narcotics list, people can use it to self-medicate.”

It said it recommends the use of cannabis for insomnia, loss of appetite, aches, and skin conditions. But the blurred line between “relaxation and the improvement of mental health,” as the national news bureau wrote, and recreational use, leaves a gap for interpretation.

Highland Cafe, a cannabis-themed cafe in Bangkok, started selling marijuana buds Thursday, the first day of legalization. Cafe owner Sirikwan Motaisong told EFE that “recreational use of cannabis is a personal right. It doesn’t harm anyone. It shouldn’t be wrong.”

Sirikwan said her customers bought marijuana to use at home for relaxation, similar to people who use alcohol.

“This is a gap period for anyone who wants to use or grow cannabis, not just for recreational purposes,” Sirikwan said.

Cannabis users who used to buy marijuana from underground dealers are turning to storefronts like Highland Cafe since its legalization.

Sirikwan told EFE that the period of confusion concerning the recreational use of cannabis may last about three months until there is a cannabis control act, which should state the restrictions more clearly, such as age and dosage restrictions. EFE


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