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A Guide to Cannabis Usage in Thailand

Updated: 4 hours ago


A Guide to Cannabis Usage in Thailand

On 9 June 2022, Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalize cannabis nationwide as Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed marijuana and hemp from the Category 5 narcotics list. This progressive change in legislation generally grants Thais the freedom to grow cannabis and sell cannabis-infused products - namely CBD with the aim of promoting it for medical use. This is another step forward since medicinal use was legalized back in 2018.


In 2021, global sales for medicinal cannabis were estimated at over $37 billion with Thailand’s cannabis market expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2025. With that said, the government believes that legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis will ultimately lead Thailand to become a herbal hub in the region. The legalization of the once-prohibited herb has now generated a wave of demand for infused products throughout all industries.


Thailand’s Ganja Fever Begins


Currently, 7-Eleven and Lotus’s shopping malls are already selling all types of cannabis-infused products, namely food, drinks, and beauty products. Even major brands in the F&B industry like Pizza Company also jumping on the ganja train by rolling out menus topped with the iconic leaf.

In more touristy areas like Phuket, you’ll notice small shops displaying ready-roll joints and jars of flowers for customers to walk in and purchase off the shelf.

Despite the national eruption for cannabis in the market, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has designated marijuana and hemp as ‘controlled plants’ stating that products with extracts containing over 0.2% of THC are still considered to be illegal.


A Guide to Cannabis Usage in Thailand


On the flip side, after the decriminalization of cannabis in Thailand was announced, there has been a spike in recreational use in an open and public way, but this doesn’t mean that it’s entirely legal. So this is where it gets confusing. As many question marks pop up on what you can and cannot do when it comes to cannabis usage, we’ve compiled some information to help make the picture clearer. Below is an infographic of the things you can and cannot do regarding cannabis usage;

Things Can & Cannot Do Regarding Cannabis Usage

On the safe side, we’d recommend that you acquire a doctor’s prescription for medical use at an approved hospital and clinic or get your products from a properly licensed dispensary which can be found here.


Additionally, back in August 2022, Thailand’s Public Health Minister hinted at a further step to liberalize cannabis for recreational use in the future. In the meantime, let’s explore what health benefits cannabis products bring to the table.


The Benefits of Cannabis

Before we dive into the benefits of cannabis, it’s important to know that the plant is made up of over 120 components with CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) being the most well-known. In short, CBD is commonly known for its medical purposes due to its non-intoxicating and non-euphoric component. It is often found in oil form, in gummies, and infused with food and drinks. For THC, its component is mostly known for getting you ‘high’ but when used properly, it also offers other health benefits such as relieving pain.


Alleviate Anxiety and Elevates Calmness

According to research in the National Library of Medicine, with the right amount of consumption, cannabis can help alleviate anxiety and panic disorders, especially with CBD. Various other studies also point toward the effectiveness of CBD when treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, and PTSD.


Pain Relief

The chemical compounds found in cannabis have been proven to help relieve neuropathic pain and inflammation. Recent studies have shown that using CBD can help treat epilepsy and regulate other seizure syndromes by providing relief of chronic pain. Both THC and CBD help with pain reduction as we often see the infusion of CBD commonly found in creams and balms which are used to treat arthritis.


Improves Sleep and Eases Depression

Benefits of CBD
Source: Sleep Foundation

As mentioned earlier, cannabis usage can help reduce your level of anxiety therefore making you more relaxed. The calming effect ultimately generates a peaceful night’s sleep as your stress and anxiety levels are reduced - with the Indica strain being the preferred option. A study by Sleep Foundation suggests that 65% of the participants in their research improved their sleep cycle after the use of CBD products. In addition, the endocannabinoid compounds found in cannabis can help stabilize your mood which ultimately eases depression.


Improves Lung Capacity

As we all know, smoking cigarettes or tobacco negatively affects your lung functions over time. But what about pot smokers? A study by The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that low to moderate consumption of marijuana doesn’t cause harm to the lungs but in fact, helped increase the capacity. Although it is hard to define what ‘moderate’ use is - the research claims that smoking one joint per day for as long as 7 years doesn’t seem to affect lung function negatively. This information ultimately helps marijuana users breathe a little easier - both figuratively and literally.

Cannabis Helps Fight Cancer

One of the greatest medical benefits of cannabis usage that has been floating around is that it helps fight cancer. Not only has CBD usage become widespread in alleviating the effects of chemotherapy, but there is also scientific evidence supporting that THC and other cannabinoids display anti-cancer activities. Such activities include inducing the death of cancerous cells, preventing tumor growth, and containing the spread of malignant cells, especially in the early stages.


Cannabis Impact in Thailand 2024


According to Global Market Insights, worldwide sales for medicinal cannabis surged to over $50 billion in 2024, marking a significant increase from previous years. With Thailand's progressive approach to cannabis legislation, Bangkok Post shows the country's cannabis market is now projected to exceed 43 billion baht by 2025, (1.16 billion USD) showcasing the rapid growth and potential of the industry.


Moreover, the availability of cannabis-infused products has expanded further, with a wide range of offerings now available in convenience stores, supermarkets, and specialty shops across the country. According to new data from the Ministry of Public Health, the number of cannabis-infused products on the market has increased by over 30% compared to the previous year, reflecting growing consumer demand and industry innovation.


In line with the growing acceptance of cannabis, the Ministry of Public Health states that Thailand has witnessed a 50% increase in the number of licensed dispensaries and medical facilities offering cannabis products and treatments. As of 2024, there are over 500 licensed dispensaries operating nationwide, providing consumers with easier access to cannabis-based medications and therapies.


Furthermore, research and development initiatives focused on exploring the therapeutic potential of cannabis have intensified. In 2024 alone, over 100 research projects were funded by government grants, covering various aspects of cannabis cultivation, extraction, and medical applications. These efforts are expected to yield groundbreaking discoveries and advancements in the field of cannabis science (Office of the Higher Education Commission).

The Tourism Authority of Thailand stated that Thailand's tourism industry has also benefited from cannabis-related activities and attractions, with an estimated 20% increase in cannabis-themed tours and wellness retreats booked by international travellers. This trend has contributed to a 15% rise in tourism revenue related to cannabis tourism, further bolstering the country's economic comeback after COVID-19.


Despite the progress made in cannabis legalisation and regulation, challenges remain, particularly in ensuring the safety and quality of cannabis products. Many consumers are still sceptical and question the prolonged usage of the substance. Recent reports from the Food and Drug Administration indicate that regulatory agencies have conducted over 1,000

inspections of cannabis facilities, resulting in the closure of several unlicensed operations and the implementation of stricter quality control measures.


Overall, Thailand's cannabis landscape continues to evolve rapidly, with the industry poised for further growth and innovation. As the country embraces the potential of cannabis, it is expected to emerge as a key player in the global cannabis market, driving economic growth and advancing medical research and innovation. However, there is still much to learn from the usage of the product and even more importantly the regulations needing to be implemented to ensure public safety


Sources: Lonely Planet, TATnews.org, Phuket Cannabis Cafe, Cannabis for Thailand, Greenhead Clinic, The Standard, Health Europa, Sleep Foundation




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