Thailand is the most recent country – and the first in Asia – to legalize the use of marijuana. Cannabis plant parts have now been removed from the narcotics list, giving way to thousands of dispensaries to open their doors and start selling cannabis products to the public. The legalization of marijuana in Thailand has also led to swathes of tourists traveling through to sample the local produce, but the legal landscape isn’t as forgiving for tourists as it is for locals.
If you’re heading to Thailand to experience its new high times culture, there is some key information you should have before you go. This tourist’s guide for using marijuana in Thailand contains all the do’s and don’ts, and how to stay on the right side of the law.
Which cannabis products are legal to use in Thailand?
Since law reform in Thailand, there’s no restriction on the consumption of raw cannabis parts. But there are extra rules about what can and can’t be sold in cannabis extracts such as oils and tinctures.
Cannabis buds and flowers are sold in a variety of different strains and strengths, and tourists will find a huge variety of indica, sativa, and hybrid types. However, tinctures and oils are restricted to a maximum THC concentration of 0.2%. This essentially means that the only high-strength cannabis extracts readily available to the public in Thailand are made from hemp, contain primarily CBD, and are non-psychoactive.
This might come as an anticlimax to tourists looking for the psychedelic experience most cannabis users get from THC, the psychoactive component. But psychonauts will have to chase those thrills from cannabis buds and flowers (i.e. smoking) rather than cannabis extracts.
High strength THC extracts can still be found, but are reserved for those holding a prescription for medical marijuana – something most tourists won’t have.
Who can and can’t use cannabis in Thailand?
The legal age for using cannabis in Thailand is 20 years old, so anybody over the age of 20 has access to cannabis plant parts, or with a medical prescription also has access to cannabis products.
There are penalties for dispensaries caught selling to minors, but it’s also a crime to sell cannabis to a woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding, unless she has permission from her doctor to use it.
Where can you use cannabis in Thailand?
Tourists are now able to walk into any one of the over 5,000 dispensaries across Thailand and legally purchase cannabis products. But unlike the coffeeshops of Amsterdam, tourists will have to find their own private place to consume cannabis. Despite legalization, it remains illegal to smoke cannabis in public places, and doing so incurs a fine of up to 25,000 Baht.
If you don’t mind a bit of cannabis cuisine, you can legally consume cannabis in food products in licensed restaurants around Thailand, making that the only public place a tourist can legally consume marijuana. However, you won’t be able to smoke your dispensary-purchased flowers in there – for that tourists will have to find a safe, private location.
A move towards a more tightly controlled market
The cannabis market has taken off a little quicker than the Thai government would have liked, and as a result, a more tightly controlled market looms ahead. In less than a few years, thousands of cannabis dispensaries and restaurants have opened in Thailand. Individuals looking to cultivate cannabis can do so with a basic license from Thailand’s local Food and Drug Administration, and there’s no limit on how many plants an individual can cultivate. This has led to a fast-growing industry and an even faster growing cannabis culture.
In an attempt to reduce recreational use and focus on cannabis as a medicinal product, the Thai government is moving towards stricter controls on who can purchase cannabis in Thailand, and what kinds of products they can purchase.
If you’re traveling to Thailand, it’s important to stay up to date with the changing legal atmosphere so you can ensure you’re using cannabis within the legal framework.
Things tourists should never do as a cannabis consumer in Thailand
While there’s no limit to how much cannabis a tourist can have for personal consumption in Thailand, there are strict laws about entering and leaving the country with cannabis products. This means that tourists cannot enter or leave Thailand in possession of cannabis seeds, flowers, or any kind of cannabis product.
Tourists should also avoid trying to get their hands on Thailand’s medicinal cannabis extracts, which require a prescription to possess. Given that most tourists won’t have that prescription, it’s safer to purchase and consume cannabis flowers or extracts that contain less than 0.2% THC.
Thailand is a cannabis industry sitting in wait – not quite the openness of Amsterdam, but not the prohibitionist crackdown that it was before. Tourists might find themselves with a lot of cannabis to use but nowhere to use it, which poses its own issues. But as the doors continue to open to cannabis tourism in Thailand, it’s imperative that tourists go armed with all the knowledge about how to have fun while staying out of trouble.