Thailand’s New Cannabis Law: A Double-Edged Sword for Small Businesses

By Thailand THC

thailandTHC > News > Thailand’s New Cannabis Law: A Double-Edged Sword for Small Businesses

  • Why It Matters: The new cannabis bill proposed by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has sparked concerns among small growers, producers, and traders about harsh penalties and the impact on the cannabis business.
  • The Big Picture: The legislation aims to prioritize medical cannabis over recreational use, but the ambiguity in regulations and potential for heavy penalties could disproportionately affect small-scale operators.
  • Driving The News: PRASITCHAI NUANUAL, a leader in Thailand’s cannabis future network, warns that the new bill could allow for arbitrary enforcement against cannabis operators, risking the livelihoods of small-scale growers and entrepreneurs.

BANGKOK, THAILAND – The Thai Ministry of Public Health’s latest draft of the cannabis and hemp bill has come under close scrutiny after Health Minister CHALONAN SRIKAEW announced its submission to the Cabinet following public consultation on January 23. The bill, which seeks to shift the focus from recreational to medical cannabis use, includes punitive measures that have raised alarms among small business operators within the cannabis sector.

PRASITCHAI NUANUAL, a prominent figure in Thailand’s cannabis advocacy and environmental activism from Phatthalung, expressed concerns to “Thansettakij” about the potential for the new regulations to be used oppressively against those involved in the cannabis industry. Unlike the initial draft proposed by the Bhumjaithai Party, which clearly defined permissible actions for the public and limited arbitrary enforcement by officials, the new bill’s vague stipulations and heavy penalties could spell disaster for small-scale operators.

The Bhumjaithai Party’s measures were explicit about prohibitions on public smoking areas, but Dr. Chalanan’s version lacks specificity on recreational use and fails to delineate prohibited zones clearly, leading to potential confusion and arbitrary enforcement by authorities. This ambiguity, coupled with the threat of severe penalties exceeding those for controlled substances, poses a significant risk to small investors due to the high cost of licensing and equipment—a nearly insurmountable barrier for many.

The draft law’s stringent penalties, aimed at curbing recreational use, may not adequately protect individuals who are not adversely affected by cannabis. This has sparked a debate on whether the law’s harshness is justified, with many fearing it will only serve to eliminate small players in favor of larger businesses, thereby monopolizing the industry.

Moreover, the potential reclassification of cannabis back into the category of controlled substances is a contentious issue. Advocates like NUANUAL urge for decisions to be based on scientific evidence rather than societal perceptions, highlighting the global research supporting cannabis’s therapeutic properties, especially for cancer treatment.

As Thailand navigates these legislative changes, the future of its cannabis industry hangs in the balance, with calls for the government to consider the public’s voice and scientific data in finalizing the bill.

Original Article on Thansettakij