Crime & Justice

Thailand’s marijuana businesses in legal limbo a year after legalization

Bangkok, Jun 9 (EFE).- Thailand on Friday marked one year since the legalization of marijuana, although the business centered around it remains in legal limbo due to lack of proper regulation, while cannabis-related enterprises continue to sprout across the country.

Marijuana was removed from the list of illegal drugs in Thailand on Jun.9, 2022 with the aim of promoting medicinal cannabis, but ended up opening the door to its trade and consumption for recreational purposes.

The lack of consensus in parliament, which was dissolved in March ahead of the May 14 elections, put a halt to attempts to regulate the sector by the then-ruling coalition.

However, the election results brought greater uncertainty after the victory of opposition parties, critical of the current comprehensive decriminalization of marijuana.

Sheltered in this large legal vacuum, cannabis outlets have begun to thrive in Bangkok and other cities in Thailand.

According to sources in the sector, since last year more than 8,000 stores have opened in the country and one million local producers have been registered.

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce valued the cannabis trade at 28 billion baht (about $800 million) in 2022 and expects the figure to have jumped close to 32 billion baht ($920 million) this year.

By 2025, the volume is expected to reach some 43 billion bat ($1.24 billion).

Entrepreneurs in this field, however, seek clarity on the rules to ensure the future of their businesses, while hoping to remain unaffected by restrictions.

“Regulation is necessary and indispensable, but I don’t think it will strangle the business worth millions that it has created,” Eddie, who runs the cannabis outlet Dutch House, told EFE.

Amid negotiations to form a new government, which could take months in the worst-case scenario, the country is set to continue waiting for legislation to regulate the cannabis industry.

The Move Forward party, winner of the elections and which seeks to form the government, advocates allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes only.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Bhumjaithai party – third in the current elections -, which as a part of the previous government, supports current decriminalization with a regulation of commercial cultivation with an eye on new revenue streams in the country’s booming tourism sector. EFE

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