Thailand started 2022 with the bright hope that cannabis would be made completely legal. However, as the year draws to a close, calls for cannabis to be returned to the country’s narcotics list are getting louder.  Both sides of the cannabis legalisation argument have battled fiercely over whether Thailand’s policies related to the herb are moving in the right direction.

Critics suggest the government consider cancelling the very concept before more damage is done, especially since there is no specific law that can comprehensively govern the use of cannabis.  MPs are still furiously debating every article of the 95-article Marijuana Bill, Even if the draft legislation does go through, it will still take several more months for it to go into effect.

Early this year investors were getting their business plans ready to capitalise on cannabis-spiked products, including food and beverage and even cosmetics.  Farmers also expected to earn a good income from growing the plant, which has long been seen as a narcotic in Thailand. The public was also excited, especially those who were keen to legally smoke pot.

Cannabis was banned under the Narcotics Code until December 9, 2021.  In February this year, the Public Health Ministry issued a regulation legalising all parts of the plant. The regulation came into effect from June 9, paving the way for pot to become completely legal.

As of June 9, businesses began launching their cannabis-spiked products, including food and beverage. Thanks to this wide-spanning regulation, shops selling ganja began sprouting up all over the country, and some grocery stores even began stocking the stuff.

However, concerns have been growing that Thailand’s move to legalise cannabis may have unlocked free trade and consumption by people who may not fully understand the harmful effects of marijuana usage. Doctors say cannabis affects people’s intelligence, reasoning and emotions.

While Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul insists the government has no policy promoting the recreational use of marijuana, critics say the plan to decriminalise marijuana is exactly that; especially for the young generation.

The Bhumjaithai Party, a key partner of the ruling coalition, has insisted that it will never backtrack on its policy to legalise marijuana. Several agencies under the Public Health Ministry, like Food and Drug Administration, have also supported the use of cannabis.

These agencies have assured the public that if the Marijuana Bill is passed, Thailand will have better control over cannabis use. The bill is still in its second reading in the House of Representatives but the future of legal cannabis is far from clear.