Bangkok, Jun 9 (EFE).- Thailand relaxed Thursday the consumption of cannabis containing less than 0.2 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s psychoactive component, which will allow its controlled cultivation in homes and for medical purposes.
The legal change, approved in February and which removes marijuana and hemp from the list of narcotics, makes Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia to partially decriminalize the drug.
Starting Thursday, anyone can grow up to six marijuana plants with less than 0.2 percent THC at home, although they must register at the provincial offices of the Health Ministry.
However, the authorities have insisted the measure is limited to medical use and that recreational use remains prohibited.
These steps to partially decriminalize marijuana have prompted the creation and development of numerous products that include marijuana leaves, which are THC-free.
Restaurants, ice cream parlors, and coffee shops are some of the businesses that have jumped on the legal marijuana train, although it is the large corporations that have the upper hand in obtaining the necessary permits for large-scale production.
The cannabis industry is expected to reach $ 661 million in 2024 in Thailand, according to research entity Prohibition Partners, which said some 86 million people use marijuana a year in Asia with great growth of medical cannabis.
Thailand passed a law in December 2018 to legalize the use and research of medical cannabis, although its implementation through concrete regulations has been slow to develop. In 2019 it began supplying medical marijuana for pain relief to some patients in hospitals.
Authorities approved its use in 2021 as an additive in food and beverages.
Following the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, signed the decriminalization of marijuana on Feb. 8 if it has less than a 0.2 percent of THC, a law that after a period of 120 days took effect Thursday.
Thanks to this measure, more than 3,000 people serving prison sentences for marijuana-related crimes will be released Thursday, the Department of Corrections said Thursday on social media.
However, there are still important limitations.
Those who grow marijuana with more than 0.2 percent THC face up to five years in prison for possession and up to 15 years in prison if caught selling.
Authorities have warned consumers not to smoke in public, as they risk being punished with up to three months in prison and fines of THB 25,000 bat ($725) if they cause a “public disturbance.” EFE