Thai Public Health Minister Pushing for Cannabis to Be Rescheduled

    On May 23, Thailand’s Public Health Minister, Somsak Thepsutin, announced significant changes to the country’s cannabis laws. Only cannabis buds will be reclassified as a Category 5 narcotic, while other parts of the plant such as leaves, branches, roots, stems, and seeds will remain legal. This move follows the Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s commitment to recriminalize marijuana, raising concerns among businesses invested in the cannabis industry.

    Key Changes in Cannabis Regulation

    1. Reclassification of Cannabis Buds:

      Cannabis buds, known for their psychoactive properties, will be listed as a Category 5 narcotic. This targets recreational use, which involves the buds containing high levels of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
    2. Legal Status of Other Plant Parts:

      Other parts of the marijuana plant, including leaves, branches, roots, stems, and seeds, will not be reclassified as narcotics. This distinction allows for continued use in various non-psychoactive applications, such as industrial hemp production.
    3. Regulations on Cultivation and Use:

      The ministry will issue new regulations governing the planting, possessing, importing, exporting, and using cannabis. Permissions will be required for these activities, focusing on medical, research, and similar beneficial uses. This ensures that marijuana is used in a controlled manner, prioritizing health and safety.

    Historical Context and Implications

    In 2022, the Public Health Ministry had removed marijuana and hemp from the national list of Category 5 narcotics, aligning with the Narcotics Control Board’s recommendations. This move spurred significant investments in the cannabis industry. However, with the new administration under Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin in 2023, there has been a shift in policy towards stricter control.

    Businesses, both small and large, are now facing uncertainty due to these regulatory changes. The directive to recriminalize marijuana buds could impact the burgeoning cannabis market, affecting everything from local dispensaries to large-scale producers.

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    The decision to keep hemp legal is crucial as it differentiates between marijuana and hemp, the latter having low THC content and high industrial value. This decision aligns with global trends where hemp is utilized for various industrial purposes, including textiles, bioplastics, and construction materials.

    Future Prospects and Compliance

    Minister Somsak’s statement indicates a balanced approach, allowing the continued growth of the hemp industry while controlling recreational marijuana use. Businesses involved in the cannabis industry will need to navigate these new regulations carefully, ensuring compliance to avoid legal repercussions.

    The requirement for permissions and clear guidelines for medical and research use could lead to a more structured and scientifically driven approach to cannabis in Thailand. This could foster advancements in medical research and therapeutic applications of cannabis, benefiting patients and healthcare providers.


    Thailand’s updated cannabis regulations reflect a cautious yet progressive stance towards cannabis control. By outlawing cannabis buds while keeping other parts of the plant legal, the government aims to balance public health concerns with economic and industrial benefits. The new regulations provide a framework for controlled use, emphasizing medical and research benefits while curbing recreational abuse. As the directive comes into effect, businesses and stakeholders must adapt to the evolving legal landscape to harness the potential benefits of cannabis responsibly.

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